For those shivering in their quarters or work centers when the autumn sun goes down, heat is on the way for U.S. military bases in Japan — sooner for bases farther north.

Most bases use temperature guidelines to determine when to turn the heat on. But there’s no standard policy for heat activation, as bases govern their own heating procedures, according to U.S. Forces Japan officials.

For most bases in mainland Japan, the heat won’t be switched on until mid- to late-November.

But at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, outdoor temperatures got chilly enough for heat this week, but only for base housing. For housing, heat is turned on when the average outside temperature is 60 degrees or colder for three consecutive days, according to Senior Master Sgt. John Mazza of the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Civil engineers began opening heating steam valves on Monday for base housing. By Thursday, all main base and north area housing had heat, Mazza said.

The temperature standard for industrial facilities is nippier. The average outside temperature must be 50 degrees or colder, three days in a row.

Temperatures at Misawa are cooling but mild weather hasn’t vanished. While it was 37 degrees Fahrenheit Wednesday afternoon on base, the mercury reached 59 degrees Fahrenheit at 1 a.m. Thursday, according to the U.S. National Weather Service.

At Misawa, the wing commander makes the final decision on heat activation, upon recommendation from the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, Mazza said.

Farther south, on Japan’s Kanto Plain, bases near Tokyo will likely see heat next month, but on different schedules.

Yokota Air Base officials said heating will be completely turned on by Nov. 15.

But at Yokosuka Naval Base, where the start date hasn’t been approved, heat will be turned on according to a phased schedule beginning in the latter part of November, according to Jim Korcal, the base energy manager for Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

Camp Zama expects to start pumping heat to all facilities on Nov. 5. But because the small Army post is able to use an incremental heating system, daytime heat will only be provided when the outside temperature is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

The nighttime heat only applies to quarters; other areas will only be heated during office hours.

The incremental supply of heat is an energy-conservation tool to compensate for warm daytime temperatures in October and early November, officials note in an Army memorandum given to Stars and Stripes.

A shift supervisor controls the application of heat at each boiler plant, while plant operators are to monitor the outside temperature hourly, according to Army officials.

At Sasebo Naval Base in southern Japan, air conditioning was turned off earlier this month but heat has not yet been turned on. The daily low temperature must drop below 40 degrees or the average low temperature must fall below 55 degrees for three consecutive days before heat is turned on, according to Lt. Marcelo Dijamco, the base assistant public works officer.

Also, if the inside temperature of any building drops below 65 degrees for three continuous days, heating will be turned on for that specific building, Dijamco wrote in an e-mail response to Stars and Stripes.

Heating in Sasebo will come in two phases, he said. The first phase is tentatively scheduled for mid-November and will include residential buildings and designated duty offices during evenings, though some select buildings may receive daytime heat.

The second heating phase will begin in late November or early December and will include heat for all facilities, he said.

When temperatures drop, heat will be phased in starting with community buildings such as housing and then moving to administrative buildings. Last year, heat was activated the first week of November, officials said.

At the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the heating season will begin when outside temperatures reach 50 degrees for five consecutive days or Nov. 1, whichever occurs later, according to base bylaws.

Heat will be available in all offices, public areas, berthing areas and family housing.

Steam heat will be cycled to buildings throughout the day. However, heating systems will not operate unless indoor temperatures are 70 degrees or cooler, according to base rules.

Reporters Vince Little, Travis Tritten, Chris Fowler and Bryce Dubee contributed to this story.

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up