PACAF leads major commands in energy conservation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Gatewood
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
Pacific Air Forces officials have seen a 17 percent reduction in energy use from fiscal 2003, 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 major command during 2006.

"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," said Dean Nakasone, command facility energy conservation program manager.

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

The contracted resource-efficiency manager, Greg Lizak, who works with Mr. Nakasone, takes the bases' request for project funding and prioritizes them to lessen PACAF utility bills in years to come.

"(We) think of it as an investment," said Mr. Lizak.

Projects that helped reduce energy include:

-- 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 AFB, Hawaii, is planning for projects to install solar water-heating systems at several locations.

-- Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, decommissioned its Combined Heat and Power Plant, because steam lines were leaking, and installed efficient individual natural gas-fired boilers at facilities basewide.

-- All bases now employ a contract energy-efficiency manager to help the base energy manager run the energy-conservation program.

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

He added that keys to successfully reducing utility bills and energy consumption include Airmen implementing low-cost or no-cost measures to reduce waste, energy experts identifing and implementing 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 minus 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," Mr. Nakasone said. "Conservation goals are achievable without impacting our quality of life."

Below are some common tips Airmen can use to help with energy and water conservation no matter where they are stationed.

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. If occupants feel offices are too bright, tubes may be removed. Supplemental task lighting can then be used to provide light at places more appropriate for the occupant.

-- Know and set thermostats in accordance with installation thermostat policy.

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

-- 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 the facility.

At home:

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

-- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights, which use 70 percent less energy and last about 10 times longer.

-- Use fans instead of air conditioners. Two fans in place of 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. Peak demand rates can be significantly more costly. 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 the air conditioner's fan or blower to work efficiently while improving indoor air quality.

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

-- 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 2.5 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 five gallons of water with every flush.

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

Energy conservation helps combat 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," Mr. Nakasone said. "Energy conservation is a great way to increase what we are able to provide for our Airmen and mission."