MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Since the dawn of the world, mankind has searched for a way to improve personal quality of life. From making fire, to finding something more comfy to sleep on than rocks, the basic human instinct to thrive has pushed civilizations through the millennia, making new discoveries with every passing year. Now, what is it that drives those pursuits? To put it simply, electricity and utilities.
Fast forward to the year 2013 and navigate the globe to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, where a community flourishes like many others. Without utilities though, life as station residents know it would come to a standstill.
“If station residents don’t conserve energy, family housing will have to spend more of its funds on paying utility bills, which may result in fewer services offered to residents, such as the purchase of new appliances, access to community rooms and loaner furniture, or self-help tools and equipment,” said Kirby Franklin, station housing director. “Family housing does not receive anyone's housing allowance. Every dollar saved by conserving is a dollar that can be used for something else within family housing.”
Franklin mentioned that some of the ways base housing residents can conserve utilities include: turning off lights that are not needed, turning heaters and air conditioning units down when the room isn’t in use, keeping windows and doors closed when the heat or AC is turned on, unplugging electronics if leaving home for more than a few days, using natural lighting by opening blinds and curtains during the day time, replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light or LED bulbs and setting computers to sleep or hibernate mode when not in use.
For water conservation, residents should fill dishwashers efficiently and limit the number of uses, as well as conserve water when washing dishes or preparing food and take shorter showers and baths.
“Utilities are not free. Family housing is required by law to reimburse the station for every utility that is used,” said Franklin.”
Chief Petty Officer Michael Schlosser, utilities chief with station utilities, along with several members from the utilities division also mentioned some of the concerns with station energy usage.
According to the station’s utilities division, the total energy use is on the rise compared to previous years. The overall electrical consumption is up 4 percent this year, something that could increase the billing rate of next year’s energy contract.
The Japanese government does not reimburse the station for all of its energy use. The Japanese government pays a percentage of the amount of electricity the station uses, up to a set amount. The more the station exceeds that amount, the more the station has to pay out of its pocket.
According to the utilities division, the electric bill cost comes out of the station Operations’ budget. The more money used for utilities, the less that can be appropriated for other projects that will improve operational effectiveness and quality of life.