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Energy changes ahead for housing residents

With the capability to monitor actual consumption rates each month within like-type categorized homes, the Air Force will now set the utility allowance each month for the majority of homes based on real-time monthly meter readings and eliminate the 10 percent buffer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

With the capability to monitor actual consumption rates each month within like-type categorized homes, the Air Force will now set the utility allowance each month for the majority of homes based on real-time monthly meter readings and eliminate the 10 percent buffer. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

The Resident Energy Conservation Program encourages residents to conserve and be more responsible for their energy usage and consumption. Residents who make a conscious effort to support energy conservation within their home will be rewarded with rebates. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

The Resident Energy Conservation Program encourages residents to conserve and be more responsible for their energy usage and consumption. Residents who make a conscious effort to support energy conservation within their home will be rewarded with rebates. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ilka Cole)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Many Eglin housing residents will soon get to manage their energy usage just like those living off-base, and those who are prudent with the thermostat could see rewards in the form of rebates.

The goal of the new Air Force utility allowance policy is to reduce energy usage. Dollars saved through conservation efforts equates to more money that may be used to improve existing homes and community facilities. The revised policy will be calculated using monthly meter readings.

"Only new construction and Hidden Oaks units will be metered," said Kathy Lawhon, Eglin Housing manager. "Those living in older units will not participate in the program," she said.

In order to accurately compare utility consumption, all participating housing units are grouped into profile groups, or "like-type" homes, based on location, size and construction type. Many variables are used as criteria for establishing the profile group's baselines, including number of floors, bedrooms, square footage, year built, and more.

The baseline is calculated for each profile group of homes by measuring the average usage for all fully occupied like-type homes for a given month.

Once the utility baselines are established, residents will receive cash rebates (credits) when they conserve energy, and must pay out-of-pocket for any consumption above a baseline. 

"Basically, if a resident goes over the average one month by $25, and the next month they go below the average by $10, then the balance is now $15. It allows the resident the opportunity to change how they're using energy to become more conservation-minded before they have to come out of pocket," said Lawhon.

Residents consuming less than the baseline will receive a credit. If the credit is greater than $50 the resident will receive a rebate check. Any credits less than $50 will be accrued on a monthly basis. Once the credit exceeds $50 a rebate check will be issued.

Those residents using more energy than the baseline will have a balance due. If the charge is greater than $50 the resident is responsible to pay the charge by the given due date. Any charges less than $50 will be accrued until the balance of the charges exceed $50.

In the event a resident moves out or vacates their home any remaining charges, accrued rebates or credits will be reconciled.

"Right now my wife and I are a little concerned about how the change is going to impact us financially," said Staff Sgt. Mario Pozo, assistant non-commissioned officer in charge, Squadron Aviation Resource Management office, 58th Fighter Squadron.  "My wife works from home and thus our energy consumption could be higher than others. If our home consumes higher than the average, the monthly fee may impact our financial stability."

Prior to the start of mock billing, Eglin Housing and Corvias will hold town hall meetings to provide more details about the program and offer residents an opportunity to have their questions answered.

"We expect the out-of-pocket expense for residents who use more energy than the average users to be around $8 per month," said Lawhon.

Beginning in October, there will be a "mock" billing period where Eglin housing residents receive billing statements that will show their actual usage, but will not be required to make payments nor be eligible for any utility billing rebates. "Live" billing begins in January 2017. Residents will receive their first actual usage report in February 2017.