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Energy Efficiency Tips

white house with yellow door

Want to Improve the Efficiency of Your Home?

Follow the tips below to improve the efficiency of your home and see significant energy savings. Read below to learn how to reduce air leakage from your home. Air leakage occurs when outside air enters your home and conditioned air leaves your home. Air enters and leaves your home through its: 

  • Floors, walls, ceilings (31%); 
  • Ductwork (15%); 
  • Fireplace (14%); 
  • Plumbing penetrations (13%); 
  • Doors (11%); 
  • Windows (10%); 
  • Fans and vents (4%); and 
  • Electric outlets (2%).
Energy efficiency testing, door covered with fabric and fan blowing on it.

Looking for more ways to be energy efficient? Our staff can help you with an  opens in a new windowenergy audit, complete an  opens in a new windowonline energy audit form, or call 874-7325 for more information. Download the  opens in a new windowU.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers Guide.

Space Heating Efficiency Tips

  • 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.
  • Frequent or drastic changes to your thermostat setting may cause you to use more energy. Avoid increasing your thermostat setting by more than two degrees at a time. A greater change can cause your back-up heat to come on. Whenever your back-up heat comes on unnecessarily, you will be losing an opportunity to save energy.
  • If you have a heat pump, make sure you install a “smart” thermostat that will warm the house back up gradually before you return.
  • When your heat pump is operating in the cooling mode, you can adjust your thermostat setting up or down without worrying about additional systems coming on. For economical operation, however, aim for the highest comfortable temperature when selecting your thermostat setting. For the cooling season, the recommended temperature is 78 degrees.
  • Replace your furnace with a new unit with an AFUE rating of 95 percent or higher.
  • Replace the system’s filter every three months or 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.

How Does It Work?

During the cooling cycle, your system will remove heat and humidity from your home and will transfer this heat to the outdoor air. During the heating cycle, your system will remove heat and humidity from the outdoor air and will transfer this heat to your home. This is possible because, even at 20 degrees, the outdoor air contains a great deal of heat. Your heat pump does not generate much heat. It merely transfers it from one place to another.

In the mid-Missouri climate, a heat pump cannot completely replace a furnace. Once winter temperatures dip to around 20 degrees or below, a heat pump works less efficiently and requires help from a standard combustion furnace. Generally, the furnace is only required for about 25 percent of the heating season.

Discounted Heat Pump Electric Rate

Heat pumps help Columbia Water & Light reduce summer peak demand, which saves the utility money. Although heat pumps use more electricity during the winter, electric prices are lower for the utility during these months. Columbia passes along the savings to our customers with high-efficiency heat pumps. The discounted heat pump rate is applied from October through May. Minimum insulation requirements are a requirement of this electric rate classification. Contact us to sign up for the rate. E-mail us at  opens in a new or call 573-874-7325. See our  opens in a new windowelectric rate page on our main website for more detailed rate information.

Appliance Efficiency Tips

  • Clean the coils on the bottom or the back of your refrigerator regularly.
  • 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  opens in a new windowEnergy Star qualified models.
  • Inspect and clean your dryer vent tube periodically. Built-up lent can lead to longer drying times and can be a fire hazard.
  • Run clothes washer and dryer only when you have full loads.
  • When replacing appliances, purchase  opens in a new windowEnergy Star qualified models.
  • Use the air-dry setting on your dishwasher.
  • Run your 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.
  • When replacing appliances, purchase  opens in a new windowEnergy Star qualified models.

Air Conditioning Efficiency Tips

  • 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.
  • Keep the fireplace chimney dampers closed.
  • Plant deciduous shade trees on the south and west side of your house to keep your house cool.

Lighting Efficiency Tips

  • Replace frequently used incandescent lamps or compact fluorescent lamps with LED lamps.
  • Don’t leave the lights on in an empty room.
  • Install timers, photocells or motion switches on exterior lighting fixtures.

opens in a new windowLearn more about energy efficient lighting.

Computer and Electronic Efficiency Tips

  • 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.
  • Don’t leave televisions on in an empty room.
  • 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.

Home Weatherization Tips

  • Replace weather stripping on exterior doors.
  • Install new door sweeps or bottom seals.
  • Caulk window and door frames on the exterior.
  • 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.
  • Install foam gaskets behind light switches or outlets located on exterior walls.
  • Magnetic kitchen exhaust fan covers can keep air from leaking when your 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.
  • Check for air leaks. 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 indicate air loss.

Ductwork and Air Distribution Efficiency Tips

  • 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.

Attic Insulation

Follow These Specifications for Your Attic Insulation:

  • 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

Participate in the Attic Plus Program and receive rebates up to $450 (for eligible customers).

Contact Utility Services


701 E Broadway, Columbia, MO 65205



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