Lean times? Listen to the "whispers"

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- I love this commercial on the radio ... a little boy whispers "I see wasted kilowatts."

For movie fans, this line is a familiar take-off on a classic scene in the late 1990s thriller "The Sixth Sense."

On the radio, the ad leverages this theme and communicates the reality that not everyone can see a wasted kilowatt, but they're out there.

Here at AEDC, that waste is literally a drain on our operations at a time when we can least afford it. Unless we listen to "Cole," we'll never build any headroom in lean budget years ahead. So we're on a mission to keep those precious dollars right here, and we need your help.

Fortunately, we're seeing a groundswell of initiatives aimed at conquering this large and growing problem.

But I need everyone's commitment in this campaign ... the real power in these ideas is in the "numbers."

Here's an example. Many of us work a relatively predictable schedule on a regular basis, so we're here on the order of eight hours a day. The rest of the day, we aren't chained to these pesky computers.

If you aren't actually using the computer, the monitor is just sitting there "wasting kilowatts." Now I'm sure many of you are thinking "but it goes into the "power save" mode automatically." Well, yes it does, but notice we don't call it a "power free" mode. Even in this low power state, trons are flowing, and none of them are free.

Let's assume that if you leave the monitor on, "sleeping" overnight, it burns a measly penny's worth of juice. What's the big deal, right? Did you know there are over 3,000 monitors on AEDC?

That's over $10,000 a year, and those dollars produce NOTHING! It's so easy for us to save this $10,000.

Just turn off the monitor every time you leave your desk. The button is right there, just begging you to mash it down. It's just a matter of discipline. It really doesn't impact your productivity, as it powers right back up almost instantly. It's nothing like the time sink hole of a re-boot. It's just an insignificant habit adjustment. Pull your CAC, tap the power button. Yes, for now we'll still leave the CPU running so the updates can execute while you are away, but the simple act of powering down the monitor actually makes a difference here.

We found a similar savings in hallway lighting. In our building, we ran a test case, and found no problems after we pulled half the bulbs from the overhead lights.

Multiply that across eight corridors and four floors, there are hundreds of bulbs, amounting to thousands of dollars saved every year. Plus, fewer bulbs to replace. And nobody is going to miss the glare on the floor tile.

This is the reality: these two ideas alone save almost one half of one employee's salary. Three more like this, and we've saved enough to preserve a part our most important asset ... our work force.

We know our budget is declining, our test workload is not growing, but the nation can ill afford to let our capabilities dwindle because we couldn't find the discipline to turn things off when we aren't using them.

Have you left a room and "forgot" to turn off the lights? Have you entered a work area only to find a fan blowing with no one around? As fall is upon us, are you already digging out a space heater when a sweater or jacket would do the trick? We just can't operate that way any longer.

Over the next few weeks, we will start rolling out more of these ideas. Not all will be as easy as the ones mentioned here, but will likely pay much bigger dividends.

Nothing is off the table.

If you haven't been a part of the brainstorming on this issue, this is your chance. I've challenged to team to find us $1 million in savings this year. It's out there, I know it.

None of these ideas will work without everyone pitching in and executing. The power is in the numbers.

Together, we can do this, and this is one effort that benefits us all.
So, to tug on just one more of my favorite commercials ... when you hear about a change in our operations that will contribute to this goal, "Just Do It!"