Biggest energy management asset is you

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Logan Mitchell
  • 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron
October is Energy Awareness month, and with the "I am AF Energy" campaign in effect, stories related to energy efficiency are being highlighted across the Air Force. Reports on energy managers that save millions of dollars with large scale projects cover wing newsletters and fill our inboxes.

Stories relating to fuel saving software and high-efficiency HVAC systems that save "MMBTUs" make excellent headlines; however, they exempt the individual Airman from playing their role in energy management. We focus on these complex projects completed by engineers instead of focusing on how we, as individuals, can conserve energy because it seems so small in comparison. This critical error regarding individual energy management hinders our ability to properly steward the tax payers' dollars.

As a recently commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, I have been afforded a unique opportunity to work with the excellent Energy Management team at Sheppard while I await my pilot training start date.

On a daily basis, I collaborate with some of the Air Force's brightest civilians to facilitate the large scale energy saving projects that make the headlines during Energy Awareness month.

While this experience allows me to assimilate exciting new energy technologies, it has most profoundly impacted my awareness of my personal energy use. I am now conscientious of energy saving practices that I once thought insignificant.

Simple practices like taking shorter showers, turning up the air conditioning setting while out of my dorm room and employing water saving practices while washing dishes and clothes do not save tax payers a notable amount of money when considered on an individual scale.

However, they allow me to better manage resources allotted to me. Furthermore, when applied to a base population, these practices can in fact have a significant impact.

Sheppard houses several thousand Airmen in dormitories. For the purposes of this article, assume there are 5,000 Airmen housed in the dorms. Using my dorm room as an example, there are 11 florescent bulbs, so if I were to switch these lights off for an additional two hours each day, I would save 120 kWh per year. If I were to turn off my laptop for five hours per day, instead of letting it go to sleep, I would save 44 kWh per year. Finally, if I were to wash one less load of laundry per week and only wash full loads I would save 613 kWh and 1825 gallons of water per year.

These practices are easy to implement into our lives and do make an impact when examined from an individual stand point. If all 5,000 dormitory residents take these energy saving steps, the base would save 3,885 megawatts of power and 9,125 kgals of water per year.

At the current energy and water rates, these savings would translate to $323,000, a significant amount of saving. There are many other ways we can save energy.

A short list is included below, however a full list of energy saving tips can be found at:

· Cool your home at 78 degrees or warmer with the thermostat fan switched to auto. For additional savings, raise your thermostat to 82 degrees or warmer when you're away.
· Heat your home at 68 degrees or cooler with the thermostat fan switched to auto. To save even more, lower your thermostat to 65 degrees or cooler at night or when you're away from home.
· Turn off your ceiling fan when you leave the room.
· Use your dishwasher to conserve energy. Avoid pre-rinsing dishes to save up to $70 a year.
· Adjust the water level on your washing machine to match the load size, especially when using hot water. Always use a cold rinse.
· Clean the lint filter in your dryer before every load to dry your clothes faster.
· Use the auto sensor function on your dryer to conserve energy by not over-drying your clothes.

Individuals can make a significant impact. As Airmen, it is our responsibility to ensure that the Air Force is as capable and efficient as possible. Energy conservation provides an avenue for us, as individuals, to impact our units and bases by protecting the resources available for operations.

Furthermore, in the current state of fiscal constrain we must all do our part to ensure that the investments made by our nation's taxpayers are managed efficiently. Energy managers and engineers may create large scale savings in a single project, but those projects are not the goal of Energy Awareness month.

The goal of Energy Awareness month is to remind all Airmen that we must do our part to save energy in order to continue providing the taxpayer with the most efficient and powerful Air Force in the world.

The information regarding energy usage in this article was provided by A Study of In-Dorm Student Energy Use at Smith College by Britni Steingard. The information regarding water usage was provided by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Science: 40 Gallon Challenge. Current energy and water cost for Sheppard AFB were used for monetary calculations.