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Thunderbolts save volts

A solar array panel stands on a dormitory roof Sept. 3 at Luke Air Force Base. There are currently four active solar arrays on base. The solar array shown will produce hot water to the dormitory. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Grace Lee)

A solar array panel stands on a dormitory roof Sept. 3 at Luke Air Force Base. There are currently four active solar arrays on base. The solar array shown will produce hot water to the dormitory. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Grace Lee)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- With resources dwindling and the earth's population growing, it has never been more important to save energy, fuel and other natural resources to save money, keep costs reasonable, and also ensure it lasts for generations to come.

"Luke is one of the biggest customers for Arizona Public Service, where the majority of our energy use comes from," said Master Sgt. Adam Kelley, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron base energy manager. "For fiscal year 2013, we used $5.7 million in electricity."

The Air Force is the largest consumer of energy in the Defense Department, and with energy costs consistently rising, saving energy has never been more essential to the mission.

"There is a Defense Department energy conservation mandate which states that all Defense Department installations must do their part to reduce energy usage by three percent each year to meet a 20 percent reduction goal by 2020," Kelley said.

To meet the mandate's requirements, Luke Air Force Base has several energy saving projects in the works including participation in incentive programs with APS.

"We currently have four active solar arrays on base and are in the process of installing four more to produce hot water for three of the dormitories and the dining facility," Kelley said. "We also participate with APS in regards to our incentive program. For example, if we replace old equipment with more energy efficient equipment, APS will write us a check that goes directly back to Luke."

Although Luke's energy managers do what they can to ensure the base is being more energy efficient, it is up to each person on base to make a difference.

"There was a study done that if each person would just turn off their computer monitors before leaving work for the weekend, we would save $70,000 annually and that's just from the monitors," said Master Sgt. Samuel Simien, 56th CES energy manager.

At the workplace one can help by getting rid of unused refrigerators and unplugging appliances that are not regularly used, Simien said. Electricity is still running through them even when not being used, Simien said. Additionally, one can switch from aerial lighting to task lighting.

There are several ways one can save electricity at home.

"Base residents can help by using the highest energy consuming appliances during APS' off-peak hours from 7 p.m. to noon," Simien said. "Many people may have the misconception that turning off the air conditioning when not in use will save them more electricity when the opposite is true. To save money on air conditioning, make sure you keep your thermometer at a tolerable temperature during peak hours. For example, keep it at 80 degrees Fahrenheit when your home is unoccupied, then when off-peak hours hit, turn it down to your desired temperature."

One will save more on energy costs this way because it will prevent the a/c system from overworking to get the temperature of the entire house down more than 10 degrees, Simien said.

Other ways to cut energy costs are changing light bulbs to fluorescent bulbs because they only require 16 watts instead of the 75 watts of traditional incandescent bulbs.

"The smallest changes will make a big difference," Kelley said. "It would help tremendously if every person on Luke would identify areas to save energy at the workplace. If there are issues within the facility let it be known by contacting your designated facility manager who will in turn submit a work order to the 56th Civil Engineer Squadron."

For more information or to put in a work order, the CE help desk can be reached at 623-856-7083.