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Take 'power nap' to beat heat-related spike in electricity usage

(U.S. Air Force Graphic by Naoko Shimoji/Released)

(U.S. Air Force Graphic by Naoko Shimoji/Released)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Living on a military installation allows a multitude of benefits for families, including no responsibility to pay utility bills. Often times this can cause a sense of unawareness -- an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality.

Although service members do not directly pay these bills, they still have to be paid by someone.

Annually, the government pays an average of $6,000 per household living in base housing on Okinawa for electricity, totaling more than $35 million for the entire Okinawa family housing community, said Michael Gilbert, 718th Civil Engineer Squadron Kadena energy manager. Additionally, the base is charged 20 percent more during peak demand hours of 1 to 4 p.m. from June through September.

June 2013 had a 10-percent increase in cooling degree days, or CDD, compared to June 2012, Gilbert said. CDD is the number of degrees a day's average temperature is above 65, and is one way to compare how hot it is from one year to another.

"Okinawa has experienced a record heat wave this summer, with the highest temperature ever recorded at 97 degrees on August 7. The heat index generally hovers around 100 degrees," Gilbert said. "This spike in temperature has caused a 4 percent increase in electricity usage, costing approximately $1M in June alone."

Solar intensity was up this year compared to last. There were also fewer cloudy days this June and July compared to 2012.

"All of these issues -- initial high cost, high temperatures, high solar intensity, and high electricity demand -- combine to increase the amount of energy it takes to keep indoor temperatures at a comfortable level, and ultimately a more expensive utility bill," Gilbert said.

According to the Kadena Military Family Housing office, Okinawa electrical power uses coal-operated power plants for approximately 78 percent of electrical production; therefore, reductions in our military installations' electrical consumption not only cuts cost, but also helps reduce air pollution, greenhouse gas production and acid rain.

While energy-saving methods should be continued year-round, there are only a few months left of the "Power Nap" campaign to actively reduce Kadena's energy usage and save the government money. Gilbert offered a few tips to help Team Kadena members save energy:

- Keep doors, windows and curtains closed to help reduce the loss of cool air.
- Cook and do laundry in the morning or evening.
- Before leaving for vacation, unplug all electrical devices and turn the thermostat temperature to 80 degrees to keep the home dehumidified and save energy usage.

Stay tuned to the Kadena Facebook page for more information and helpful tips to save energy, and remember to take a "Power Nap" between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m. every day!