Meeting of the minds: Innovation team hears energy-saving proposal

THINK TANK: Members of the 412th Test Wing Innovation Team discuss a proposal involving solar-powered attic fans that could reduce energy costs at Edwards. The team met Sept. 23 in the Innovation Center, which is located on the bottom floor of the dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

Members of the 412th Test Wing Innovation Team discuss a proposal involving solar-powered attic fans that could reduce energy costs at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The team met Sept. 23 in the Innovation Center, located on the bottom floor of the dining facility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The 412th Test Wing Innovation Team is always looking for a few good ideas, and it may have received one Sept. 23. Jack Frazier from the 412th Civil Engineering Group proposed that the base install solar-powered attic fans in buildings on base.

 

Frazier is a resource efficiency manager for the 412th CEG and pitched the idea as a way to save the base money on energy bills, which are a significant cost not only to Edwards, but the Air Force as a whole.

 

Frazier explained how the solar-powered attic fans will remove excess heat in attic air spaces by ventilating the space above ceilings, making work areas more comfortable while putting less strain on air conditioning units. The fans are automatically activated by a thermal switch that turns on and off at certain temperatures.

 

“During the peak summer months, an attic’s temperature can rise to 160 degrees or more,” Frazier said during his presentation, which was given in the Innovation Center.

 

“This heat build-up can then raise the temperature inside the office and work spaces and increase the amount of electricity used by air conditioners and other cooling equipment,” he said.

 

According to Frazier, purchasing and installing the solar attic fans is relatively cheap. The purchase and installation of four fans can be paid for through energy savings within a year he said. Another benefit is that the fans can be installed without putting holes in roofs.

 

After listening to the presentation, questions were posed to Frazier including how the attic fans would be used during the winter months. According to the attic fan’s manufacturer, the fans should be used year-round because moisture can accumulate in the winter months and can cause damage and mildew. The fans would keep moisture from forming by circulating the air.

 

The Innovation Team discussed the feasibility of the attic fan project and agreed to elevate the idea to wing leadership to possibly fund a test project for the fans.