Striving for better environment? Adopt conservation mindset Published June 3, 2008 By Col. Greg Touhill 81st Training Wing commander KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- Did you know that the Air Force is the nation's top purchaser of green power, electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, low-impact biomass and low-impact hydro resources? It's pretty impressive to know that last year the Air Force purchased nearly 900 million kilowatts of green power, nearly 9 percent of our total usage. Take personal initiative While the Air Force is committed to creating a more environmentally friendly and sustainable world, there are things we can do as individuals to save energy, save money, and reduce the demand for fossil fuels as well. Taking the initiative for a better environment is simply a case of readjusting your behavior. Small, incremental changes in your everyday practices at home and at work will go a long way in creating a cleaner and safer world. Lights out When you leave a room, turn out the lights. In the summertime, keeping your thermostat at 78 degrees will still keep you cool and save energy and money at the same time. Clean or replace the air filters in your air conditioning units. Dirty air filters makes the air conditioner work harder and burn more electricity. A clean air filter can reduce your energy usage by 5 percent. Something as simple as turning down the thermostat on your refrigerator reduces your energy use. Refrigerators account for about 20 percent of household electricity use. Setting the refrigerator temperature as close to 37 degrees and the freezer as close to 3 degrees as possible will reduce your electrical bill and won't make a difference in the quality of the food stored there. Making sure that the gaskets around the refrigerator/freezer doors are clean and sealed tightly will also keep in the cold and save money. Better bulbs Once again, small changes can make a big difference when it comes to energy use. The purchase of energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs to replace ordinary incandescent bulbs is another way to reduce your electrical use. The compact fluorescent bulbs cost more initially but only use 25 percent of the energy of a regular light bulb. It's an interesting fact that if every American switched to the use of just one compact fluorescent bulbs in their homes, it would save the equivalent of a year's worth of energy produced at a large nuclear power plant. Here at Keesler, we don't want to be buying any more incandescent bulbs when compact fluorescent bulbs are a better, more cost-effective alternative. Making conscious decisions to conserve energy makes good sense, yet it can save us cents too. Due to increased costs associated with energy production, our suppliers have adjusted their rates, meaning Keesler's electric bill has increased an additional $930,000. That's $930,000 we could be using to invest in our facilities and people. Through conservation, we can offset the increases in utility costs and be great stewards of the taxpayer's money. Value of recycling In a previous writing, I voiced my support for recycling here at Keesler and I want to reaffirm its value in conserving resources. Frankly, I believe we need to do a lot better in recycling around here. Every soda can and bottle, every scrap of recyclable paper and anything else we can recycle, we need to take to our recycling center. Not only does Keesler earn money for our recyclables (that we reinvest in our morale, welfare and recreation programs), but recycling reduces the nation's energy demands too. Recycling is the right thing to do! Major dividends These are just a few things you can do to save on your energy use. Small investments of time and money reap dividends, not only by improving the quality of our environment but also by saving you money. It is within the power of each and every one of us to change our energy use on a revolutionary scale. And the best part is that you do not have to make a huge sacrifice to accomplish this. The Air Force is doing what it can to make the environment better, and you can, too. Let's all get our mind set on what we can do to save energy so that we can truly say that the Air Force blue is green, too.