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Energy conservation - Airmen in the workplace

Courtesy graphic

Courtesy graphic

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan - -- Energy Awareness Month takes place each October, but what should this mean to you?

In fiscal 2014, the U.S. Air Force spent $9 billion on energy and its associated costs. An energy bill of this magnitude should be a concern for everyone.

A large part of this "energy pie" is Airmen and civilians every day at their office or workplace. It may not seem like a lot, but with an active duty force of more than 7,500 people, as well as Department of Defense and Japanese civilians on Kadena alone, everything begins to add up.

Everything from miniature refrigerators to personal fans will increase the energy load on a building.

"The more appliances you have on and plugged in; that increases the energy load on the building and makes the air conditioner work twice as hard," said Chad Beck, 18th Civil Engineer Group installation energy manager. "This is where it takes teamwork; it takes everyone working together to reduce the number of appliances, which reduces the energy load."

Beck suggests trying to use a single large refrigerator located centrally in your workplace or section instead of multiple smaller ones.

"Although personal fans add to the energy load, a small personal fan can do wonders to keep you feeling cool without having the building manager turn the setting down," Beck said. "Turning down the thermostat by just a single degree can increase the energy load on the air conditioner by three percent."

An easy way to remember some helpful tips is the acronym, A.C.T.I.O.N.

Appliance reduction: As mentioned earlier, this includes using a single personal fan and using a single large refrigerator instead of multiple miniature refrigerators.

Computer log-off: If everyone logged off their computer at the end of the work day, more than $10 million in energy costs could be saved yearly.

Temperature control: Ensuring the thermostat is properly set and eliminating the use of space heaters.

Inform facility manager: Report incorrectly set thermostats, dirty air vents, leaky faucets and other energy inefficiencies.

Outdoor conservation: This includes reporting broken sprinklers and street lights or building lights that are left on during the day.

No waste: Turn off electronics when they are not in use, excluding networked computers which should be logged off, not turned off.

All of these small efforts - or A.C.T.I.O.N. - can add up to big savings for the Air Force.

The 733rd Air Mobility Squadron offers one great example of innovation at Team Kadena..

First Lieutenant Daniel Dwyer, 733rd AMS officer in charge of passenger services, said, "So far we have replaced normal lights with L.E.D. alternatives and installed a turbine regulator to the building's air conditioning units which creates a consistent energy output that optimizes energy conservation and increases the longevity of the air conditioning unit."

Although it can seem like a large task, every small step in the right direction can help and keeping your chain of command in the loop can improve the process.

"When it comes to these improvements, have a platform in which ideas can be communicated and reviewed from all levels of leadership," said Dwyer. "This allows the projects and ideas to progress smoothly and become a reality quicker."

No one Airman needs to change the way things operate, but every single Airman can make a difference in the process to save energy.

"We wanted to identify where we can become more efficient in our processes and energy consumption by adopting both known and innovative solutions," Dwyer said.