Energy Action Month update: Academy reduces utility bill by $1 million

The Air Force Academy reduced its utility bill by $1 million from the 2015 fiscal year to the 2016 fiscal year by using a variety of energy and cost saving measures. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

The Air Force Academy reduced its utility bill by $1 million from the 2015 fiscal year to the 2016 fiscal year by using a variety of energy and cost saving measures. (U.S. Air Force graphic)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --

Energy experts at the Air Force Academy said due to an increasing awareness of energy conservation and cost-saving measures, the school’s utility bill plummeted by $1 million in the 2016 fiscal year.   


The energy bill for the 2016 fiscal year was just above $6 million and hovered around $7 million for the 2015 fiscal year, said Wayne Inouye, the base’s energy manager.


“We met and surpassed [Federal] energy-reduction goals,” he said.


Larry Newton, resource efficiency manager at the Academy, said the drop in energy cost is the result of a installing energy-efficient lighting on the outside of the Vandenberg Hall dormitory, in the Pine and Douglas Valley housing areas and on several Academy roads, and other cost-cutting measures.


“We’ve also eliminated some day-burning street lights, which reduce our energy costs by $4,000 to $5,000 a month,” he said.


This fiscal year, the Academy will reduce its water consumption by placing Xeriscaping around the visiting officers and bachelors’ quarters, Newton said.


Newton said the goal of senior officials at the base is to reduce energy consumption, improve water conservation and reduce maintenance cost.


“This allows us to use the tax dollars we save to enhance our capabilities,” he said.


All facilities on the school’s energy plan are audited for their energy use every four years, in keeping with The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Newton said.


“When we do energy audits, we develop energy and water conservation measures which develop into projects,” he said. “This energy consumption is tracked.”  


Newton said 45 to 50 buildings on the base use about 75 percent of the base’s total-reportable energy consumption.


During these audits, the Academy reviews or considers solar arrays; geothermal energy; building infrastructure; window efficiency; insulation; and installing new boilers and heating, ventilation and cooling equipment, Newton said.


“We’re always looking for ways to conserve energy,” he said.


Russell Hume, the Academy Headquarters’ engineer, predicts the base’s energy use will continue to decline.


“We’re on track to use 3.8 percent less energy this [fiscal] year than last year,” he said. “Not to take away from our success, but the Air Force has really hit home the need for energy resiliency,” he said. “We’re diligently working on that.”


Energy saving tips

-- Lower the water heater temperature to 120-degrees Fahrenheit. Install an insulating blanket around the heater.


-- Heating can account for half of a family’s winter energy bill. Make sure the furnace or heating pump is professionally maintained every year. Look for the “Energy Star” label when replacing your heating system.


-- Review additional strategies to reduce water heating costs. Water heating can account for 14 to 25 percent of the total energy consumed in a home.


-- Replace incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent lights or light-emitting diodes. Compact fluorescent lights use up to 75 percent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs.


-- Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms. Install timers, photo cells or occupancy sensors, to reduce the amount of time the lights are on.


-- Turn off the computer monitor when it’s not used for more than 20 minutes. Turn off the computer monitor if it’s not going to be used for more than two hours.


-- Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use, such as all small appliances and electronic devices.


-- Install a programmable thermostat that can be adjusted to temperatures according to your schedule. Look for the “Energy Star” label when replacing your system.


-- During winter, open curtains of southward windows during the day to allow sunlight to heat your home. Close the curtains at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.


-- Clean or replace furnace, air conditioner and heat pump filters


-- Energy Star products can cut an energy bill by as much as 30 percent


Weekly tips

-- Buy a water-heater blanket, low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators, and compact fluorescent light bulbs


-- Rope, caulk or add film to leaky windows


-- Assess your heating and cooling systems. If replacements are needed, retrofit for better efficiency


Monthly tips

-- Separate electricity and fuel bills. Target the largest bill for energy conservation measures.


-- Insulate hot water pipes and heating ducts in unheated areas, such as attics and crawlspaces


-- Seal air leaks in your home. The biggest leaks usually occur in pipes, gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.

-- Get an energy auditor to point-out the worst leaks. Cracks and holes can equal an open door or window.

-- Install a programmable thermostat


Annual tips

-- Insulate. If your walls aren’t insulated, have cellulose put into the walls.


-- Replace aging and inefficient appliances. Even if the appliance has a few useful years left, a top-efficiency model is a good energy-saving investment. Check the age and condition of your refrigerator.


-- Replace leak around windows with energy efficient models and boost their efficiency with weather stripping and storm windows. The typical home loses more than 25 percent of its heat through windows.


-- Upgrade your computer and monitor. Consider replacing your desktop computer with a notebook computer and docking station, and your monitor with a liquid crystal display or monitor.


-- Reduce air conditioning costs by planting trees and shrubs around your house