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Residential Energy Efficiency

a man installing insulation at a residential construction site

Simple ideas can sometimes add up to significant energy savings. Check out these energy efficiency tips to learn more about ways to save money and energy.



Here are Columbia Water & Light’s minimum recommendations:

  • Attic Insulation: R-50
  • Floor: R-19 above unheated areas
  • Crawl Space Wall Insulation: R-10 with a vapor barrier
  • Duct Insulation: R-13 in unheated areas
  • Rim Joist Insulation: R-13



  • Install storm windows to provide additional insulation and to reduce air leakage.
  • Replace missing window putty or glazing as needed.
  • Replace your old, leaky windows with new, energy-efficient double pane windows.


Air Sealing

TIP: On a windy day, place a lit stick of incense to check for air leaks. A horizontal flow of the smoke means you have a leak. Dirt and spider webs can also indicated air loss.

  • Replace weatherstripping on exterior doors.
  • Install new door sweeps or bottom seals.
  • Caulk window and door frames on the exterior.
  • Install foam gaskets behind light switches or outlets located on exterior walls.
  • Magnetic kitchen exhaust fan covers can keep air from leaking when fan is not running.
  • Check door bottoms and thresholds to make sure air is not escaping. Replace when necessary.
  • Seal holes in the exterior walls where air conditioning and plumbing pipes penetrate.
  • Seal holes around plumbing pipes where they pass into the crawl space or attic with spray foam sealant.
  • Close off openings between a masonry chimney and surrounding wood framing in the attic with sheet metal or foil-faced foam board insulation.
  • Seal openings in the floor around bathtub drains.
  • Install weatherstripping around the perimeter of attic access hatches and pull down stairs.
  • Close fireplace damper when not in use.


Ductwork and Air Distribution

  • Don’t block vents and radiators with furniture, curtains or rugs.
  • Seal leaky duct connections with duct sealing mastic.  Do not use duct tape, as it will dry out and come loose.
  • Insulate all uninsulated ductwork in unconditioned spaces (attics and crawl spaces).
  • Undercut interior doors to allow air to return to the air handling unit freely.
  • Replace air filters every two to three months.


Air Conditioning

  • Have the refrigerant charge of your air conditioning unit checked annually by a qualified HVAC contractor.
  • Remove weeds, grass, bushes, and other obstructions from around the condensing unit (the outdoor unit).
  • Set thermostat settings as high as possible while maintaining reasonable comfort levels while you’re home.
  • Set thermostats to 84 degrees when you’re away from home, or install a programmable thermostat to do that automatically.
  • Replace your air conditioning unit with a new unit with a SEER rating of 14 or higher.
  • Replace the system’s filter every three months or when dirty.
  • For windows that receive direct sunlight, keep shades closed during the day.
  • Wear loose fitting clothes.
  • Keep the fireplace chimney dampers closed.
  • Plant deciduous shade trees on the south and west side of your house to keep your house cool.



  • Set thermostat settings at 68 degrees or as low as possible while you’re home.
  • Set thermostats to 60 degrees when you’re away from home, or install a programmable thermostat to do that automatically.
    Note:  If you have a heat pump, make sure you install a “smart” thermostat that will warm the house back up gradually before you return.
  • Replace your furnace with a new unit with an AFUE rating of 95 percent or higher.
  • If you have a heat pump, do not make a lot of changes in the thermostat temperature during heating season unless you are going to be away for several days. Otherwise the auxiliary heat will come on which makes the system more costly.
  • Replace the system’s filter every three months of when dirty.
  • For windows that receive direct sunlight, keep shades open during the day and close them at night.
  • Wear layers of clothing and use extra blankets.
  • Keep fireplace chimney damper closed when not in use.



  • Reduce the temperature setting on your water heater to 120 degrees or less.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly.
  • If you hear water running in your toilet, check for leaks and make repairs.
  • If you hear water running or a hissing sound, check water lines for leaks and make necessary repairs.
  • Install an insulation blanket around your water heater.
  • Replace the relief valve on the water heater if it is leaking.Drain a quart of water from the water heater every 3 months to remove sediment.
  • Install low-flow showerheads in your bathrooms.
  • Don’t leave the water running when you shave or brush your teeth.
  • If your water heater is over 7 years old, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient model.
  • Wash clothes in cool or cold water whenever possible.
  • Take 5 minute showers instead of baths.


Lighting and Appliances

  • Replace frequently used incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps.
  • Don’t leave the lights on in an empty room.
  • Don’t leave televisions on in an empty room.
  • Install timers, photocells or motion switches on exterior lighting fixtures.
  • Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher.
  • Clean the coils on the bottom or the back of your refrigerator regularly.
  • Run washer, dryer and dishwasher only when you have full loads.
  • Scrape your dishes rather than rinsing them before putting them in the dishwasher.
  • Air dry dishes instead of using the drying cycle feature on your dishwasher.
  • Inspect and clean your dryer vent tube periodically. Built up lent can lead to longer drying times and can be a fire hazard.
  • Since some appliances use electricity all the time, plug them into a power saving electric strip or turn a regular strip off when the appliances are not in use.
  • Set your computer to hibernate or standby mode after 30 minutes of inactivity.
  • Set your computer monitor to enter sleep mode after 5 minutes of inactivity. Screen savers generally do not save energy. Some graphic-intense screen savers burn twice as much energy than normal use.
  • Unplug laptops or cell phone chargers when not in use. They can draw power even when they are not in use.
  • Test your refrigerator gaskets by closing the door over a piece of paper. If you can easily remove it with the door closed, consider replacing either the gaskets or the appliance.
  • The recommended temperature for your refrigerator is 37 to 40 degrees and 5 degrees for the freezer.
  • When replacing appliances, purchase Energy Star qualified models.


Residential Energy Use

31% – space heating
12% – space cooling
12% – water heating
11% – lighting
9% – computers and electronics
9% – appliances
8% – refrigeration
8% – other


Air Infiltration Rates

31% – floors, walls and ceiling
15% – ductwork
14% – fireplace
13% – plumbing penetrations
11% – doors
10% – windows
4% – fans and vents
2% – electric outlets


Contact Utility Services


701 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65205


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