Energy conservation: One person can make a change

by Maj. Bill Triche
86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander

As autumn prepares us for our winter slumber, there are many events that come with the season: village farmers markets, wine tasting and winter stews and soups, all of which warm our bones.

We plan our Halloween parties and fall feasts to invite folks over for fun and fellowship. But, do you celebrate October as Energy Conservation Month? I know. Break open the noise-makers. We are going to have a good time now.  But consider the impact one person can have on the energy consumed daily, then multiply that by 365 days, then add one more person, and so on. I don’t want you to do the math, but I do challenge you to change a few personal habits that can have an energy savings impact.

Personal Challenge:

• When brushing your teeth, do you leave the water running or do you turn it off until rinse (yea, this is an easy one)? How many of us leave the water running by habit? This is energy down the drain.

• How about this one: When showering, do you turn the water off between wet-down, soaping and rinsing?  A bit harder. The fitness centers have timed water flow, and after a few showers, this isn’t so hard.

• Unplug equipment that drains energy when not in use (i.e. cell phone chargers, fans, coffee makers, desktop printers, radios, etc.). Yep, even when these components are not charging or operating your appliances, they are still using energy and you are getting nothing from it.

• Get a quick car check. To save gas, drive the speed limit, accelerate and decelerate slower, remove excess/unneeded weight, reduce unnecessary idling and miles traveled, and make sure tires are properly inflated. Having a serviceable vehicle and operating it conservatively can save gas and money.

• Carpool, bike or use mass transit when commuting to work. This one takes a little planning and maybe some warmer clothes. Or, plan a carpool that offers conversation or a few extra minutes of sleep when it’s not your turn to drive.

Office Challenge:

• Turn lights off in your unoccupied offices/rooms and ensure the lights are energy saving compact fluorescent lights. A quick check of light bulbs and simply turning lights off when leaving the room can reduce energy consumption on a regular basis year round.

• Maximize natural lighting and heat by working the window shades.

• Save paper. Photocopy only what you need. Always use the second side of paper, either by printing on both sides or using the blank side as scrap paper.  Eventually, set a goal of paperless work flow.

• Use coffee mugs instead of disposable cups. Next time you are at the coffee/tea baristas notice how many disposable items are used to prepare just one beverage.

• Recycle as much as possible. Not only is it policy but it is very easy — recycle containers are throughout offices and collection centers are at designated locations on base.

These are just a few quick items that can help reduce the consumption of energy year round. These challenges will quickly become your “new normal” habits, and in no time you will be an energy savings superhero. You can dress for Halloween with your ES on your chest — maybe, maybe not. But, you can rest assured that you have done your part to save energy today and everyday and in your spare time you can do the math:  You multiply 365 by family members by a few friends, rounded to the nearest whole number.  Put that number in a favorite font and bedazzled on a shiny badge you can wear on your superhero costume.