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Greening Tinker: Base receives smart power strips

Brad Haithcock loads boxes of power strips onto a cart, while Chuck Murphy signs approval for 300 units to go to employees’ workstations in their organization. Both men are part of the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Contracting Directorate. Britton Young, center, from the 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineering Directorate, and other members of Tinker’s Energy Team distributed 11,500 smart power strips to base employees on March 14. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

Brad Haithcock loads boxes of power strips onto a cart, while Chuck Murphy signs approval for 300 units to go to employees’ workstations in their organization. Both men are part of the Air Force Sustainment Center’s Contracting Directorate. Britton Young, center, from the 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineering Directorate, and other members of Tinker’s Energy Team distributed 11,500 smart power strips to base employees on March 14. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla -- They say the best things in life come in small packages. If that's true, Tinker may save approximately $60,000 per year on a device that costs a mere $14.60 apiece.

Earlier this year, Air Force Materiel Command purchased 11,500 smart power strips for Tinker energy personnel to distribute to base employees in an effort to further encourage energy awareness. It is estimated one strip will save 8.67 kilowatt hours per month. If used correctly, the strips will pay for themselves in three years.

"This takes the thinking out of being energy-efficient with computers. Without the smart power strips, you have to think about turning off the monitor. People get complacent about turning off lights and monitors," said Britton Young, Tinker's Energy Team point-of-contact in the 72nd Air Base Wing Civil Engineering Directorate. "We're excited about the smart power strips. They're going to save us energy and dollars."

Meant solely for on-base computers, the strips were distributed on Thursday mornings to unit representatives who requested them. In some instances, there was a request for three smart power strips; in other cases, 1,200.

In order for them to be the most efficient, a user needs to be aware of the threshold switch, control outlets and switched outlets. The threshold switch determines the degree of power. Low can be used for most laptops; medium is for most desktops and high is for some desktops. When the power strip draws a higher threshold of energy than where it is set, equipment will be turned on.

The control outlets are for computers that should always be set to "on." Switched outlets are for equipment that can be turned off such as monitors, telephones, speakers, and printers.

"When the computer is running and you're using it, it pulls a lot of power," said Mark McWhirter, base energy manager with the 72nd ABW/CE. "When it goes to sleep, it pulls very little power. The strip senses the difference between it being used and not being used and will turn everything off."

Once the appropriate appliances are plugged into the strip, the user only needs to remember to "restart" the computer at the end of the day. By using the restart option, the computer will set into the appropriate mode, as well as receive network updates. If the computer is not restarted, it may not go to sleep, said Ms. Young, who switched to a smart power strip earlier this month.

In total, AFMC purchased more than 77,000 smart power strips. The bases to receive the most are Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Tinker.
Old power strips can be brought to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office for recycling. Should an issue arise with the smart power strips, call Ms. Young at 734-7213.