Winter heating: Small changes equal big savings
By Ken Webb, 460th Civil Engineer Squadron energy manager
/ Published October 15, 2013
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Winter is already nipping at us this year around Buckley, but it is never too late to ensure your home and heating systems are ready for the cold to come. There are plenty of simple energy saving tips that can apply to your residence to make a difference in your energy bill.
First is being aware of your home thermostat. Many new thermostats on the market allow for programmable cycles that can be controlled by your smart phone or tablet computer. Maintaining a lower temperature at night or while away can promote healthy savings.
The Department of Energy reports that for each degree the thermostat is set back, you can save 1 percent off your home energy bill. Daily temperature setbacks should last for a minimum of eight hours and are typically in the 5-10°F range. Should you be away for longer periods of time, 10-20°F may be used, but never go below 55°F or you may risk damage to your home's water piping.
Second is using a humidifier that monitors indoor humidity and corrects when necessary to aid in making cooler indoor temperatures feel warmer. Your heater will naturally reduce humidity in the air during the winter, so offsetting this will increase personal comfort and can promote better health.
Lastly, there are a few smaller things one can do. One includes reversing ceiling fans to pull cold air away from the floor to create a more even temperature circulation. Another is to open curtains to southern facing windows to maximize solar-heating effects. Also, try to minimize the usage of exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms as these will blow large quantities of warm air outside.
To promote heating and cooling energy savings on Buckley, the 460th Civil Engineer Squadron uses a system known as an Energy Management Controls System, a large, intelligent controls network. The EMCS allows for temperature controls, system operations monitor and even tracks utilities usage while continuing to gain new capabilities within 39 facilities. This facility automation system saves up to 20 percent annually on heating and cooling costs through maintaining temperature levels as directed by the Air Force and highlighting system deficiencies to be corrected in a timely manner.
Every Airman can promote energy savings by identifying areas that are either too hot or too cold to their facility manager.
The usage of space heaters is limited by the Air Force Space Command policy on appliances and personal device use to those with areas that require heating correction or for personal medical reasons. This limitation is in place due to a single space heater using up to $110 per month in electricity, which adds up very quickly across a base.
Dressing for the season can also ensure comfort during the workday.
Remember, small efforts by every Airman will result in large savings. We Are Air Force Energy!