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Kentucky Air Guard explores ways to save energy

Tom Spalding, base energy manager for the 123rd Airlift Wing, uses a thermal imager to take infrared pictures of equipment at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 25, 2016. Equipment that runs abnormally hot can indicate failing parts and increased energy consumption. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

Tom Spalding, base energy manager for the 123rd Airlift Wing, uses a thermal imager to take infrared pictures of equipment at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 25, 2016. Equipment that runs abnormally hot can indicate failing parts and increased energy consumption. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky -- Facilities managers at the Kentucky Air National Guard have launched several new projects to conserve energy and increase systems reliability, including the use of infrared thermal imagers.

When the 123rd Airlift Wing receives new equipment such as heating or air conditioning units, workers use the imagers to take temperature readings of different components, explained Tom Spalding, base energy manager.

The imager is pointed at motors and other components that cause friction and heat, creating a color picture that provides the temperatures ranges of the items in the image.

The images are then saved, providing a baseline record of the equipment's "heat signature" that can be re-evaluated as the equipment ages.

Spalding said images of equipment will be made twice a year. If temperatures inside a piece of equipment rise, Civil Engineering will know that a component might be failing and needs attention.

"It's important because as its thermal image increases, more BTUs are being used as its temperature rises," Spalding said. "We can fix that because we can replace a motor before it breaks."

Another project is the recommissioning of equipment. Maintenance workers are looking at the original and current configuration of equipment on base, Spalding explained.

In some cases, energy can be conserved if equipment is reset to original specifications, which may have fallen out of adjustment over time.

Spalding says the base currently uses about 300 megawatt hours of electricity per month, but there many small things that can be done to reduce usage.

"Picking out a new power strip is not the biggest win, but when you add it together, if we have 200 power strips on base, were saving 40 watts a day from each desktop -- that's huge. It's a couple of megawatts a month."

Spalding recommended plugging your computer into a separate power receptacle, but plugging peripherals such as speakers and monitors into a surge protector that you turn off every day when you leave.

Spalding said other energy conservation projects are on the horizon, including solar arrays for the base.