Misawa cleared for cool-off
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- A breeze of cool air can finally make its way throughout the residences of Misawa Air Base beginning July 15 when approved portable Air Conditioning units are once again authorized for use.
For the second summer in a row, residents here are allowed to turn on their portable AC units through September 2014.
However, occupants are reminded that the use of only one AC unit per household is currently permitted. This applies to both tower and dorm residents.
"Ideally, we would love to let everyone have more than one temporary AC unit so they can cool more than one room in their home, but we just can't handle that load right now," says Cari Schroeder, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron resource efficiency manager.
The base presently has a yearly limit as to how much electricity its facilities can utilize and if that amount is exceeded, then a financial penalty is incurred, explains Schroeder.
"In order to prevent us from going over the limit, we had to evaluate the size of the unit a household can have in order to not overpower our electrical capacity," Schroeder says.
An analysis conducted by the energy team, helped finalize a list of approved AC units that could be utilized to help keep energy usage within limits, along with narrowing regulations to one unit per household. Their study also found that if every member on base utilized one portable AC, it would cost the base more than $320,000 every two months.
In one year alone, the bill owed on utilities at Misawa is approximately $45 million. During these times of fiscal constraints, Schroeder says, it is crucial for the team to look at different areas to figure out how to save and make up for that money.
"We want people to be comfortable and stay mission-ready without having to lose sleep over the heat because it can affect their work performance," Schroeder says. "But unfortunately, we have to set limits."
The base is currently in the process of installing permanent AC units in 416 housing units expected to be completed by next summer. The first group of houses will have permanent ACs up and running this summer.
Future projects to install AC in dorm rooms and throughout other facilities on base are still in the works and are pending funding approval.
"We ask that individuals please understand that we are thinking about everybody's quality of life and we are doing everything we can to make sure that people are as comfortable as reasonable," said Schroeder.
She asks that individuals cut down on how much they use their AC units this summer and remember to not leave it on all day. Given that individuals are essentially on the honor system in policing themselves to abide by these rules, she adds members should consider using their portable ACs reasonably.
Using fans first, with open windows, to see if that cools down their living quarters is a good idea. When using the AC, ensure all doors and windows are closed and limit the temperature of the portable unit to no lower than 74 F or 23 C. Turning off lights at the house when not in use and not using major appliances during the midday are also useful tips to help save energy.
"People often don't realize how much it cost to run appliances and spend on electricity because they don't receive a bill," says Schroeder. "But it's important to note that Japan has a much higher electricity rate than most areas in the United States."
In the end, the energy team is looking for a balance between quality of life, the budget available, and making sure there is money in the Air Force for other needs.
For a list of approved temporary AC units and locations for where to buy them, see the following: APPROVED AC UNITS