Shining the light on home energy savings



by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs


10/26/2012 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- Energy from both the crowd and the vendors surged at Maxwell's first Home Energy Expo Oct. 19, kicking off with the crowd-pleasing electric Tesla car zooming around base.

More than 20 vendors from around the Southern region were eager to share the latest technology in energy conservation with base personnel and families in the parking lot by the Maxwell Commissary.

Organized by the Maxwell Energy Management Team, the event followed the Air Force's motto for energy awareness, "Power the Force - Fuel the Fight," which gives base residents tips and suggestions on how they can save on their next power bill. Saving money is one of the biggest incentives for saving energy, according to Garland Turner, base energy and utility manager.

"When you start talking dollars and cents to people, dollars speak louder than anything we can browbeat into you," said Turner. "If you can show somebody that they can save $5 a month, it doesn't sound like a lot, but to a lot of people it is."

Attendees were greeted with more than just booths and pamphlets at the event, as vendors presented helpful demonstrations, interactive displays and firsthand looks at their products created to help homeowners conserve energy this winter.

"There are a lot of moving parts. The expo is about getting people in and getting them excited when they start seeing the different things. It's sort of a 'gee-whiz' factor," explained David Macon, asset management chief with the base's energy management office. "When they see it and have fun doing it, then that makes them want to save energy."

Visitors to the event were able to get a closer look at the sporty orange and black Tesla Roadster that can achieve 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds solely on electrical power. They also learned about geothermal technology to heat or cool the home, examined solar panels that cannot only warm the home, but a pool as well, rode a bike to create energy and turn on light bulbs, and checked out Energy Star appliances.

Other attractions at the expo included a pedal-powered cell phone charger, a Smartphone app to turn off one's water heater while vacationing, and energy efficient blueprints to build a dream home.

The event organizers hoped the expo will impact habits at home and work.

The timing of the expo coincided with the new utility allowance program for privatized on-base residents. Beginning in November, those living at Maxwell will transition from mock billing, which showed a household's estimated utility costs, to a live utility billing, where they will have to pay out-of-pocket for a portion of their utilities.

Once people start energy-saving initiatives in their homes and personal lives, they will be more likely to take those habits with them into the workplace, explained Turner.

"When you make a change to your personal life, it will carry through to your work life," he said. "But making a change at your work life doesn't necessarily mean you'll take it home."