SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- More than half of families living within Island Palm Communities, both in the north and south regions, are rising to the occasion to conserve energy through their participation in the Army's utility consumption program.

The program is mandated by the Office of the Secretary of Defense to help the Department of Defense reduce energy, but families are benefiting from it.

Families can earn cash rebates for conserving energy, and money saved through the program will support amenities and services enjoyed by all IPC residents.

Since the program began last summer, nearly $300,000 in rebates have been paid to families during the July-November 2011 period.

"This is what we want to see -- families being conscientious about their energy and reaping the benefits," Col. Douglas Mulbury, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii. "The average number of families receiving a rebate has increased each month, and I hope this is a growing trend.

"We're still analyzing data, but preliminary reports show more than a five-percent reduction in our families' energy consumption July-November 2011, compared to the same period in 2010," he said.

The amount of an average rebate check is $96. Rebates and bills are generated once the "trigger" point of $50 is exceeded.

The number of families receiving a bill has remained fairly steady, averaging approximately 16 percent of participating residents each month.

"For Soldiers receiving a bill, I want to emphasize your obligation to pay it and encourage you to do so the month it becomes due. If you don't and continue to exceed the baseline, the amount owed will only increase," Mulbury said.

A Soldier's command will be notified should a utility bill become 90 days past due, and the family will not be allowed to clear housing until the balance owed is paid.

"Following a full year of mock billing, I'm confident that how we classify home profiles and determine baselines is reasonable," Mulbury said, adding that there also is a 10-percent buffer above and below the baseline and usage that falls within the zone requires no payment and generates no rebate.

Baselines are determined by calculating the average energy consumption of all homes belonging to a specific profile. To calculate the baseline, unoccupied homes, homes in partial billing periods (move-ins and move-outs), and the highest and lowest 10- percent of users are first removed.

USAG-HI uses a rolling baseline, which means the average will change each month. The rolling baseline is intended to adjust with current weather conditions and adjust to resident needs.

"Saving energy is just adopting a lot of common sense habits, such as turning lights off during the day or when you're not in a room, using energy-saving light bulbs, ensuring the thermostat is at a proper setting -- even a couple of degrees count -- turning off the A/C and letting fresh air in on cooler or breezier days, or consolidating laundry loads and washing with appropriate water temperatures," Mulbury said.

"A lot of families are doing a great job conserving energy, and I want to thank them for making their efforts," Mulbury said. "As more families begin to conserve, I truly believe we can make a significant impact on preserving our environment in the islands and helping achieve DOD energy goals."

Daily energy consumption

Families can view their daily energy consumption at www.esoems.com. The site gives users an opportunity to see how their daily habits might impact consumption, allowing them to make any necessary adjustments and stay close to the average. Residents with questions about their energy consumption statements or those who want to request a home energy audit can call ista at 800-569-3014 or email inquiries@ista-na.com.

Page last updated Fri January 13th, 2012 at 16:12