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PACAF leader when it comes to conserving energy

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Gatewood
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Pacific Air Forces has seen a 17 percent cumulative reduction in energy use from the fiscal year 2003 baseline, well on its way to exceeding the Energy Policy Act of 2005's goal of reducing energy consumption by 2 percent each year from 2006 through 2015 for a total of 20 percent. PACAF had the largest energy use reduction of any MAJCOM during 2006.

According to Dean Nakasone, command Facility Energy Conservation Program manager, "PACAF funds projects to make our base facilities more energy efficient -- we run these programs because they save us money in the mid to long term. In the short term, we need to conserve and cut waste now, to control PACAF's energy bills, this fiscal year."

Some of the factors that helped contribute to the 17 percent reduction were implementing a strategic energy conservation plan across PACAF which includes awareness, training, funding energy contractors at bases, and projects using advanced technologies like digital air conditioning, heating controls and new generation lighting.

Contracted Resource Efficiency Manager, Greg Lizak, who works side by side with Mr. Nakasone, takes the bases' request for project funding and prioritizes them to lessen PACAF utility bills in years to come.

"Think of it as an investment," said Mr. Lizak.

Some of the things bases did to help reduce energy included:

-- Misawa Air Base, Japan, replaced conventional washing machines with energy efficient washers which save energy as well as water. The idea and method of funding this project was spread to other PACAF bases.
-- Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, is currently planning for projects to install solar water heating systems at several locations
-- Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, decommissioned their Combined Heat and Power Plant, because steam lines were leaking which cost more to operate, and installed efficient individual natural gas fired boilers at facilities basewide.
-- All bases now employ a contract Energy Efficiency Manager to assist the base energy manager with their duties running the energy conservation program.

"PACAF must continue to take aggressive efforts to reduce utility bills and conserve energy," said Mr. Nakasone.

Keys to success in reducing utility bills and energy consumption are regular Airmen implementing low cost or no cost measures to reduce waste, a staff of energy experts who identify and implement energy efficiency measures and implementing projects to reduce utility costs and save energy.

Because PACAF's area of responsibility covers a large portion of the globe, the PACAF energy program must be flexible enough to apply energy conservation principles across a variety of climates.

"Climatic extremes in PACAF range from -60 degrees Fahrenheit in Alaska, with near total darkness in the winter to 100 degrees Fahrenheit at many PACAF bases during the summer," said Gregory Lizak, command Resource Efficiency manager.

Mr. Nakasone said with the weather extremes across PACAF, it's impossible to take a single comprehensive approach to energy management and apply it to all PACAF bases.

"The bottom line is, Airmen are vital in using energy wisely and helping to reduce utility costs," said Mr. Nakasone. "Conservation goals are achievable without impacting our quality of life."

Below are some common tips Airmen can use to help with energy conservation no matter where they are stationed in PACAF:

Airmen Tips to Save Energy and Water

At Work:

- Turn off lights at the end of the day, during lunch, and when out for meetings. Break rooms, storage rooms, and conference rooms should be dark when not in use.

- Turn off computer monitors when not in use.

- Turn off outside lights during the day. Report faulty sensors and controls that fail to turn off exterior lights, street lighting, and security lighting during the day.

- Keep window shades closed on the sunny side of the building to limit heat from the sun when building is being cooled by air conditioners.

- De-lamp over-lit spaces. T8 fluorescent lighting can run with some tubes removed. If occupants feel offices are too bright, tubes may be removed. Task lighting can then be used to provide light at places more appropriate for the occupant using less energy.

- Use supplemental task lighting to provide light where needed, rather than adding more overhead lighting.

- Set thermostats in accordance with installation policy.

- Know and set your thermostat with installation thermostat policy.

- Set back temperatures of heating and cooling systems during unoccupied hours.

- Prohibit personal electric space heaters except for specific purposes, and only with the permission of the base civil engineer and federal fire marshal.

- Report leaky piping, hose bibs, faucets, and toilets to building managers for repairs. In addition to saving water, this could lessen water or moisture damage to our facility.

- Landscape with native plants adapted to the natural rainfall of the area. In addition to reducing the water bill, this is good stewardship of water resources that is shared between the base and neighboring communities.

- Keep Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning system components -- filters and coils -- clean. Plan the repair of missing insulation from chill water piping, air conditioning ductwork, heat exchangers, and hot water storage tanks.

At Home:

- Turn off lighting, air conditioning, fans, televisions, computers, appliances, and other electronics when not in use.

- Use lamps only where you need it, instead of overhead room lights.

- Replace incandescent light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL). CFL's use 70 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer.

- Install Motion/Occupancy Detectors indoors and out.

- Use Fans instead of air conditioners. Two fans, rather than an 8,000 BTU room air conditioner running four hours a day, will save more than 1,150 kilowatt hours and $161 per year.

- Set thermostats in accordance with installation policy.

- Plan cooking and laundry chores when electricity is cheapest. Some electric companies have drastically different electrical rates during peak demand hours. (one base, peak demand occurs between 1 to 4 p.m.; at another base, peak demand is between 5 to 9 p.m. Peak demand rates can be significantly more costly -- 20 cents a kilowatt-hour as opposed to off-peak which averages 11 cents a kilowatt-hour. Some places have nighttime rates -- 7 cents a kilowatt-hour. Ask the base energy manager for information about the base's peak demand schedule.

- Wash or replace air conditioning filters according to manufacturer's recommendation. This enables air conditioner's fan or blower to work less hard and improve indoor air quality.

- Use Energy Star® appliances and electronic equipment. Product listings and energy savings calculators are available on-line at

- Use cookware with flat bottom, sized for the stove's burner element. When possible, cover cookware to use steam inside, cooking food quicker. Turn down heat when food reaches proper cooking temperature and use the lowest possible heat to maintain temperature. Turn surface unit or oven off a few minutes before done, allowing retained heat to finish the cooking. Use toaster ovens, microwaves, or crock pots instead of large ovens when possible.

- Clean refrigerator coil at least twice a year. Special brushes are sold for this to reach the coils that are located either at the bottom or in the rear of the refrigerator. Also, inspect door seals for proper closure; if cracked or torn, replace the seal. Empty and clean the drain pan periodically.

- Use a power strip to conveniently turn off computers (after properly logging off), camera and cellular phone chargers, which all use standby power when not in use.

- Seal doorways and windows against infiltration of outside air.

- Wash and rinse clothes in cold water. This saves energy and water.

- Use water conserving showerheads (no more than two and a half gallons per minute) and faucet aerators (no more than two gallons per minute).

- Take showers instead of baths.

- Turn off the water while brushing teeth or shaving. An open faucet wastes two gallons of water every minute.

- Wait until you have a full load before using washing machine and dishwasher.

- Air dry dishes instead of using heated drying feature on dishwasher.

- Water lawns in the early morning or evening to minimize evaporation loss. For sprinkler systems, adjust timers and select proper nozzles to minimize runoff.

- Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket or ashtray. The toilet is the biggest water user in the house, taking up to 5 gallons of water with every flush.

- Use a broom instead of a water hose to clean off sidewalks, driveways, patios, and parking areas.

- Use buckets instead of a running hose for washing car. One method uses two buckets, one for car detergent, and the other for rinse water.

Energy conservation helps combat PACAF's ever growing utility expenses. "The cost saved by saving energy, especially ending waste, frees up funds to pay for mission and quality of life requirements," said Mr. Nakasone. "Energy conservation is a great way to increase what we are able to provide for our Airmen and mission."