City offers energy efficiency kits to keep utility bills down

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | 3:45 p.m. CDT; updated 8:45 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Central Missouri Community Action, or CMCA, is joining with Columbia Water and Light for an energy and weatherization fair. The event will show inexpensive and easy ways to reduce utility costs.

The fair is planned for Thursday, the same day that winter utility assistance funds are available to the public at CMCA.

Adam Tipton, the Community Service Supervisor for CMCA, said those who attend the fair are able to sign up for an energy efficiency kit. Kits include a hot water heater wrap, outlet gaskets, weather stripping, energy-efficient light bulbs, low-flow shower heads, pipe wraps and plastic for windows.

Tipton said the annual event has been modified for this year’s fair. Previously, the fair was not held on the same day utility assistance funds became available. Tipton believes a larger crowd will come to the fair this year because of the high demand for utility assistance. “Last year we had over a few hundred people waiting in line to sign up for utility assistance,” Tipton said. “Some stayed the night in the CMCA parking lot and had either already been turned off or were about to be turned off,” he added.

There are about 1,500 Columbia residents and about 3,000 Boone County residents who take advantage of the utility assistance funds available through CMCA annually.

About 50 students from MU are volunteering their time to install the energy kits in homes across Boone County through an organization called Weatherization 4 Winds. The volunteer organization installs donated weatherization supplies in homes and was created last fall by Lauren Ryan, an MU student. Weatherization 4 Winds is based around training students to help Columbia’s senior citizens increase their energy efficiency and lower their utility costs. While the group is based around helping senior citizens, its members would never turn anyone down who is in need, Ryan said.

On Oct. 1, utility assistance became available to senior citizens. Weatherization 4 Winds is already working on helping those who signed up to have a kit installed and will be branching out to the rest of the community following Thursday’s event.

In addition to having a kit installed, people can also alter everyday behaviors to conserve energy. “Just by simply turning down the thermostat or turning the lights out when you leave the room, you can conserve energy,” Tipton said.

The energy efficiency event along with availability to sign up for utility assistance funds will begin 8 a.m. Thursday at Central Missouri Community Action, located at 400 Wilkes Blvd.

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