Want to trade  energy bills'
Col. Deborah B. Grays Garrison Commander Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

Commander's Message
Garrison Commander
Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem

Let's face it, we're all on a limited budget.

As a result, we look for ways to save money - we use coupons when shopping, drive a little further to get cheaper gas prices and sometimes do without the things we want to be able to afford the things we need.

One major area of expense home and property owners focus on because of the usually large costs is utilities.

In a summer in which we saw a long stretch of consecutive days with temperatures in the 90s, I'm sure we all felt the pinch of high electric bills.

As a result, we looked for ways to reduce energy costs.

As the nights got cooler, we shut off the air conditioner and opened windows. We adjusted our thermostats by just a few degrees to maintain a relative level of comfort while cutting expenses further.

We closed our curtains to keep heat out, dried our laundry in the evening and ensured doors and windows were securely shut.

Managing Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem's energy issues is very much like managing the utilities in your own home, except on a much larger scale.

In August, the monthly bill for electricity alone for Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem was $781,205.19.

Water and sewage for these two installations cost an additional $117,890.80 for the same period.

These amounts are painful to spend with the budget we have.

Fortunately, just as you can take steps to reduce energy expenses at home, you can do the same at work.

And while you may be thinking cooler weather is upon us and we can expect utility costs to decline with no additional effort on our part, let me remind you that in Georgia, when the air conditioners are shut off for the winter it's not long before furnaces are turned on.

No matter the weather or season, our limited budget means finding savings wherever we can, and utilities is a key area for reducing expenses. Fortunately, just like at home, reducing our energy usage is a matter of following very simple steps.

The easiest way to conserve electricity is to shut off lights in areas not in use.

Recently, I asked a member of my Directorate of Public Works/Directorate of Logistics staff to take a drive around Fort McPherson in the late evening to inventory lights left on in buildings long after the work day has ended for most of us.

The results of his casual survey confirmed what I've long suspected - far too many lights were blazing.

While some of these over-lit buildings house garrison organizations, several tenant organization buildings had near-entire floors of lights on.

I ask the building manager in each building on our two installations to take an active role in monitoring the after-hour lighting in your building, to ensure the lights in conference rooms and similar areas are turned off when the room is not in use and to talk with your employees about energy conservation.

Of course, while you're shutting off lights, don't forget to shut off televisions, displays, appliances (such as coffee makers) and other electronic items.

You can also help save energy by being observant: if you notice areas in your building where large outside drafts are felt, contact your building manager so the DPW/DOL help desk can be informed and can investigate the report.

If you see a section of your organization where energy conservation is not being followed, talk to your supervisor or building manager.

And think about other ways you can be a better energy steward. Each little step we take adds to large monetary savings. While energy conservation is the responsibility of each individual, it is also a priority at all levels of the Army.

The Installation Management Command (IMCOM) is committed to enhancing Army capabilities and operations through energy and water efficiency.

At last week's Garrison Commanders and Command Sergeants Major Conference in San Antonio, IMCOM provided commanders a list of 16 low- or no-cost energy conservation measures.

Most prominent among them: changing the culture - everyone can make a difference! Maj. Gen. Howard Bromberg, U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) special assistant to the commanding general, recently announced changes that will be made to Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem network computer settings in the near future for additional savings.

While we'll each log off of our computers at the end of the day as we have been, the new settings will allow your computer to "sleep" after 60 minutes, with FORSCOM G6 personnel able to awaken the computers to apply security patches and updates as needed.

As government employees, we each have a responsibility to every American who pays taxes to be mindful of our everyday expenditures and as frugal as possible.

By saving money in energy and every other area we find, we're able to maintain key programs, we have more options to consider and we can look to our "wants" as well as our "needs."

Page last updated Fri October 15th, 2010 at 09:01