Anyone who has spent a summer in the West Valley knows when the temperature goes up, the energy bill goes up along with it. This is mostly due to air conditioners being electrical, along with most other appliances in local households. Wouldn’t it be a good thing if someone offered guidance on lowering energy bills by reducing energy usage?
The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Energy Optimization Flight, also known as the energy office, specializes in doing just that for the Airmen at Luke Air Force Base. They conduct building audits to see if the facility and the equipment installed are operating at their most efficient levels.
“The energy office deals with all resources: gas, water and electric. We partner with the local power distributor, Arizona Public Service, to receive rebates when we replace antiquated equipment on base with more energy efficient equipment. We also have an agreement with APS to participate in an annual peak shavings program,” said Master Sgt. Adam Kelley, 56th CES base energy manager.
“The rebates we receive go directly back to the base where they’re dispersed throughout the wing. Lastly, we conduct outreach programs like facility managers training and wing orientation briefings.”
From June 1 to Sept. 30, APS relies heavily on Luke’s ability to lower energy usage if called upon to do so. During this time, Luke will be given a timeframe to take certain steps to reduce the energy load. One of these steps includes increasing temperatures in a number of facilities by two to three degrees. By participating in the Peak Shavings Program, APS will reimburse Luke monetarily according to the amount of power it saves during the Shavings Event.
Luke Airmen strive to reduce energy use in other ways. Education is a huge part of that initiative. Energy action month, which is in April for Luke, provides an opportunity to promote energy, water and natural gas conservation awareness to Airmen. Typically, this is observed throughout Air Education and Training Command in October, but Luke holds it right before the high-temperature months to better reach people and teach them what they can do to save on resources.
The energy office takes active steps to continue to optimize energy use on base. Many of them are subtle and may not be noticed by the average Airman while some, such as the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design certified buildings, are there for all to see. LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.
“There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into simply paying the bills on base,” said Staff Sgt. Paul Shepherd, 56th CES base utility manager. “It’s more than just reading a meter. All the solar path running lights, the solar array on the fitness center, the solar hot water heater for four dormitories and the dining facility; basically, every solar panel you see on this base is drastically reducing the energy use of Luke.”
While the Airmen in the energy office are doing the best they can to help Luke save resources, they aren’t the only ones whose actions play a part.
“The Thunderbolts are invaluable in doing their part,” Kelley said. “Simple changes in our everyday culture can have a large impact on the electric and water reduction. Actions such as turning off lights and computer monitors when you leave an office or work area will add up to substantial savings if the entire base participates. Reporting leaks or excessive heating and cooling issues to CES customer service will assist in identifying and fixing the problems that might otherwise go unnoticed. Also, when we replace old appliances within our squadrons, replacing them with Energy Star appliances will lower our overall utility consumption. Energy conservation is a culture change and everyone must do their part. I’m confident Team Luke will continue to do its part to reduce utility expenses for the Air Force and reduce our overall carbon footprint.”
For more information on how to reduce energy consumption in the office or at home, call Kelley at 623-856-4746 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.