Mid-Missourians power down for Earth Hour 2014

Mar 31, 2014

Many people across Mid-Missouri shut off their lights Saturday night to participate in Earth Hour 2014. The worldwide initiative started in 2007, and has grown rapidly since its inception.

Columbia Water and Light saw a drop in city’s electric load by 2.1 megawatts, or about 1 percent of the city’s electric load. Water and Light spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz said it’s important to be energy efficient year round. 

“Anything that you can do will help not only the environment, but it will also save you money on your utility bills,” she said.

Kacprowicz said that to measure electricity use, Water and Light uses data from substations in the city and do calculations for the exact numbers. She said that they saw participation all over Columbia, but southeast Columbia and Columbia mall touted the most participation. She said that doing little things like turning lights off when not in use, switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs or LED light bulbs do add up in the long run.         

Although the initiative asks people to turn off their lights, there are many other ways to conserve electricity.

Chris Rohlfing, manager of member services at Boone Electric Cooperative, says the top three uses of electricity are heating the home, hot water, and refrigeration.

The cold winter led to a higher need for energy to heat people’s homes. Rohlfing says that if consumers turn down the thermostat by one degree in the winter, it could make a 3.1 percent difference in how much energy it takes to heat the home.

“We are very proactive in working with our membership to save energy by making homes more energy efficient, making them more airtight, and making them better insulated,” Rohlfing said.

Boone Electric is also promoting the purchase of Energy Star efficient appliances. In refrigerators, the energy consumption between those built before 1980 and those built after 2001 is staggering. Rohlfing says that those built before 1980 cost about $370 per year to operate, while those built after 2001 cost $70 per year. Boone Electric and Columbia have the Home Performance with Energy Star program, which Rohlfing said is a comprehensive test of a home to find out how well insulated it is.

“The reason we are heavily promoting those programs is because that is where the large savings are for the consumers,” Rohlfing said.