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Command committed to saving energy, reducing costs

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- Saving energy and reducing costs is something many people strive to do. When an energy bill exceeds $150 million, it becomes a necessity.

The energy tab for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa for fiscal year 2013 was a whopping $157.5 million. Since 2003, energy costs have risen about 10 percent, on average annually. These rising costs inspired the command to find ways to save money and precious resources.

Kelly A. Jaramillo, the energy manager for USAFE-AFAFRICA, said the command has several initiatives under way to reduce energy usage and save money at each base.

One of those initiatives is the Residential Energy Efficiency Program, which is designed to show base housing residents how much energy they use and how much it costs.

Under the program, energy monitors are installed in the houses of base residents. The monitors provide residents with instant feedback on the amount of electricity used and how much the energy costs per kilowatt hour.

Jaramillo said housing costs amount to 17 percent of the command's energy bill. A command goal is to have every military family housing resident participating in REEP.

RAF Lakenheath, England, was the first base in USAFE to take part in REEP. Now, about 18 percent of its housing population participates in the program, including residents at RAFs Mildenhall, Feltwell and Ely.

This has led to a drop of nearly 30 percent in electricity use and gas consumption by base residents, Jaramillo said.

Sean R. Cockrell, a 48th Civil Engineer Squadron energy manager, said he's impressed with the reductions at Lakenheath.

"I'm excited because we're making a difference," he said. "By applying smart principles, it doesn't take a lot of effort to apply energy conservation and if you follow simple steps there's massive amount of savings."

Cockrell said that through the Lakenheath REEP, the base has the potential to save thousands of dollars every year. However, the housing initiative is one of many Team Lakenheath is using to reduce energy usage.

The base removed most transformers from its office buildings resulting in a savings of about $250,000 annually. The base also converted 20 buildings to waterless urinals at minimal cost saving about 2 million gallons of water a year.

Cockrell said that since 2007, RAF Lakenheath has also reduced water use by 17 percent.

Examples of energy conservation abound across USAFE-AFAFRICA. RAF Fairford, England, reduced water consumption by nearly 50 percent since 2007. Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, implemented several base-wide initiatives that could save about $5.7 million a year. Incirlik AB in Turkey saved $500,000 after installing a solar water heating system in 19 facilities.

The solar water heating project at Incirlik took slightly more than two years to complete and cost $2.4 million. The base expects to receive a complete return on that investment in less than five years.

Artemiz Avci, the energy manager for the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron, said Incirlik is currently looking to install solar water heating systems in military family housing, a project that could save $205,000 annually.

Avci also said Incirlik saved more than $700,000 by reducing energy consumption across the base by 26 percent and water usage by 19 percent in fiscal 2013.

Jaramillo said she's pleased with the USAFE-AFAFRICA energy team.

"I'm very proud of the results so far," she said. "Our energy program is only successful when the whole team gets involved. We have energy managers quarterbacking on the field at every base. We're also starting to get people excited and we're making a difference."

While Jaramillo is thrilled with the energy savings USAFE-AFAFRICA has achieved, she said she wants everyone to share their ideas and take part in what she calls the wave.

When one person does the wave in a baseball stadium it's a complete flop, Jaramillo said. The same thing can be said for trying to save energy.

"You need everyone to work together to make a huge wave and we need everyone to do the wave with us," she said. "We have so many buildings and each base is like a small city, we need people to do all they can to reduce energy, everybody has a role, everybody has a part, join the wave."

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