Fall is finally setting in in Columbia, and the colors of the leaves aren’t the only thing that should change this time of year. With cooler temperatures and shorter days, it’s important to reflect on our energy consumption during the change of the season. October 5th marks National Energy Efficiency Day, a day to learn about practices that decrease unnecessary energy use, lower emissions, and promote a sustainable and resilient future for our city.
Energy use is intricately connected to the emission of greenhouse gases and subsequent climate change. When we use energy to heat our homes, cook meals, and power our devices, we burn fuels that can pollute air and water resources and contribute to climate change. In Columbia, 35% of our emissions are due to residential energy use. While our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) includes measures to draw down emissions from business energy use, each member of our community can also play a part in reducing our environmental impact by taking steps towards energy efficiency at home.
Energy efficiency refers to the practice of using less energy to achieve the same results. It's about maximizing output while minimizing input – a concept that aligns with the goals of a cleaner, greener future. Residents can work towards energy efficiency by utilizing more efficient systems and appliances, and by being more mindful of times in everyday life that unnecessary energy may be used.
Efficiency is also supercharged through the development of a cleaner grid, one of the key energy goals in our city’s CAAP. Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, do not result in an increase of emissions and mitigate our impact on the environment.
- Seal the Leaks: As temperatures drop, drafts and leaks become more noticeable. To maximize energy efficiency, keep doors and windows closed while heating your home to keep out cold air. If your home still feels cooler than it should, check your windows, doors, and other openings for drafts, and seal them using weather stripping or caulk.
- Adjust the Thermostat: While cool fall weather can make it tempting to crank up the thermostat throughout the day, be mindful of how you use your at-home heating system. Adjusting your thermostat a few degrees cooler at night and minimizing heating while you’re out of the house can make a notable difference in energy consumption.
- Mindful Appliance Use: As activities move indoors, be mindful to turn off lights and electronics when not in use. Especially as days become shorter, switching to energy efficient light bulbs and appliances can help you to reduce energy use while enjoying all of the joys of indoor fall activities.
- Curtain Call: Early fall days can still bring plenty of sunshine. Open your curtains during the day to let in natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting. Conversely, close them at night to trap heat indoors and keep your home warmer through chillier fall evenings.
- Utilize Columbia Power Partners Resources: City of Columbia Water & Light is working to make renewable energy and energy-efficient technology more accessible to residents across our community. See their residential resources here, which include financial incentives for heat pump installation, free residential energy assessments, energy efficiency tips for renters, and more.
As we gear up to celebrate Energy Efficiency Day on October 5th, try implementing these energy-saving practices into your daily routines. By doing so, you're not only lowering your energy bills -- you are taking meaningful steps towards a sustainable and healthier future for Columbia and beyond.