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CONS unplugs refrigerators to save energy

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 30th Contracting Squadron recently implemented a cool idea for energy conservation - ridding their office of excess refrigerators. 

At the beginning of March, the 30th Mission Support Group asked each of its squadrons to conduct an inventory of appliances in use. Lt. Col. Manuel Saenz, the 30th CONS commander, reviewed the report turned in by his facility managers and noticed there were 15 refrigerators being used in his section. 

"When I saw that number, I thought that was a lot of refrigerators," Colonel Saenz said. "But I was a culprit, too." 

The colonel had a mini-refrigerator in his office, in which he had just one soda. 

"I thought if I'm not utilizing this and can consolidate into one big fridge, then others in the office could do it, too," he said. 

The problem wasn't just an underused appliance. According to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, refrigerators are at the top of the list for energy use by an appliance. In fact, some refrigerators can cost as much as $280 per year in electricity, according to the California Energy Commission. 

While some may be willing to pay this as part of their home bills, on base that price comes out of unit funds and takes away from other essential areas. 

"With today's budget, it is very important to find as much savings as we can in operations," said Colonel Saenz. "Any little bit - from turning off a light to unplugging a fridge - will help us save a few dollars in energy and meet the wing's goals." 

With that in mind, the colonel, through his flight chiefs, asked for volunteers to turn in refrigerators. The squadron accepted the challenge and seven of the appliances were shut off. Four are now used as consolidated refrigerators in the break room and each flight kept one. 

"Everyone stepped up and were willing to help us and the wing save energy," Colonel Saenz said. "This was a total team effort and I'm proud of the unit as a whole."