As one of the largest energy consumers in the world, the U.S. Department of Defense has been working to find new, more affordable ways to use less energy, while enhancing military capabilities.
Chemistry has contributed to many of these efforts with innovative, energy-saving technologies like spray polyurethane foam and rigid insulation for buildings, photovoltaic solutions for solar power, and fuel additives that enable plane and vehicle engines to go farther before refueling.
Among DoD’s latest energy plans is a program to help the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) save money and reduce energy usage.
After racking up an energy bill of $157.5 million in fiscal 2013, the USAFE-AFAFRICA implemented a Residential Energy Efficiency Program (REEP), an initiative involving energy monitors that record electricity usage to show residents living on the base just how much energy they use and at what cost. The goal is to include all military family housing residents in the REEP program to help cut costs and reduce energy usage. According to Kelly A. Jaramillo, energy manager for USAFE-AFAFRICA, housing costs account for 17 percent of the command’s energy bill.
The Royal Air Force base in Lakenheath, England was the first to adopt the REEP program and has reduced electricity use and gas consumption by 30 percent among the residents who participate in the program.
A solar water heating project at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey has already saved $500,000 after being installed in 19 facilities. The USAFE is now also looking into installing solar water heating systems in military family housing at that base, which could save an additional $205,000 annually.
These are but a few examples of the ways in which our nation’s military forces are increasing energy efficiency to reduce operational costs. And with the continued help of chemistry, the Air Force can continue to fly high while keeping its energy bills low.