Save energy, save resources, save money
October 21, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Twenty years from now will we have enough resources to supply the energy we need? And if so, will we have enough money to pay for it?
We are faced with dwindling resources and rising energy costs. Not so long ago, when our parents were growing up, nobody worried about energy consumption. Gasoline cost less than $1 a gallon. It didn't cost much to light and heat our homes. It seemed our supply of natural resources was endless.
We know now that is not the case. The results of dwindling supplies are reflected in the prices of gasoline, heating oil and electricity and in the concerns of world leaders about the availability of those resources.
One of our high energy costs is for fuel. You can save yourself money as well as lower your fuel usage simply by following a few simple rules.
Drive less. Instead of making a special trip every time you need to run an errand, plan ahead and group errands together on the same day. Bicycle or walk when you can. Carpool or use public transportation.
Drive moderately. Stop gradually rather than slamming on the brakes. Accelerate slowly. These are also wise tips to follow in winter when road conditions don't always allow fast stops or accelerations.
A well-maintained vehicle gets better gas mileage. Change the oil in the vehicle frequently. Replace the fluids, air filters, and timing belt according to the manufacturer's instructions. Keep the tires properly inflated. The better a car performs the less fuel it will consume.
Heating oil is a high-cost -- but very necessary -- item for homeowners. Save fuel and money by turning the thermostat down. Change the settings to 78 degrees during warmer months and 68 degrees during cooler months.
You can save energy in other areas of your home as well. Wear garments more than once before tossing them into the laundry basket. Only wash a full load of laundry, which Energy Star says can save more than 3,400 gallons of water each year. Be careful not to overload or underload the washing machine. Use cold water and take full advantage of energy settings. Clean the dryer's lint filter before every load.
Lighting uses a lot of energy. By turning out the lights when a room is unoccupied, you can save money and electricity.
Use area lighting whenever possible. Instead of lighting up an entire room when working at your desk, for example, use a lamp to put focused light where you need it. Use natural light from outdoors when possible. Buy fixtures that use a dimmer since lights on a low setting generally use less electricity. Invest in compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). They use at least 66 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than traditional, incandescent light bulbs.
Use a microwave oven to save energy. Microwaves are 66 percent more efficient energy-wise than conventional ovens.
Leaving doors wide open to a room or building may make it more inviting to come in, but it wastes energy. Don't prop doors open but allow them to close after people walk through the doorway.
Reuse and recycle. If you have not joined our recycling effort, do it now. Reusing paper and recycling paper saves money and energy. Recycle alumnium cans, glass items and plastic bottles.
We can conserve energy in our homes, in our offices and in our vehicles. And in doing so, we can make the earth a better place for today and for the future. So take a few extra minutes -- slow down, turn off the lights, lower the thermostat.
The Army has given us a vision and a goal our leaders call Net Zero -- that of managing our resources in a sustainable manner. The premise behind Net Zero is that our use of resources and our production of resources will equal each other. The Net Zero approach is comprised of five interrelated steps: reduction, re-purpose, recycling and composting, energy recovery, and disposal.
We know it is our responsibility to use the resources we have wisely; to retrain ourselves about the use of water, electricity and other resources.
We at United States Army Garrison Fort Wainwright are trying to do our part in several ways.
We have a robust recycling program in our partnership with K & K Recycling and North Haven Communities, our housing partner, to dispose of paper, plastics, glass and some metal.
Last year we installed headbolt outlets that cycle on and off so vehicles are not pulling electricity all day long when they are plugged in during the winter months. Our Directorate of Public Works estimates we saved $150,000 in our first winter and looks for bigger savings in the future. The amount of savings will vary based on deployment cycles, i.e. how many vehicles need to be plugged in throughout the winter.
Energy waste is a big problem in our country. Be a part of the solution, and do your part to conserve.
Our sustainability officer, Capt. Timothy Hall, is working to educate everyone on post about the benefits of reducing energy consumption and of recycling. For more information on our energy conservation and recycling programs, call him at 353-7500.
Our Environmental Office has information on methods of conserving energy and resources. Contact Eric Dick at 361-3006.
If you live on post, contact North Haven Communities at 356-7120 for problems like leaky faucets and tips on conserving resources. Off-post residents can contact their local utilities for resource-saving tips.