Residents and businesses save money with energy audits

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COLUMBIA - To save money, some residents and businesses are turning to saving energy. Columbia Water and Light offers free energy audits, or evaluations of how energy efficient a home or business is with tips on how to cut back.

Columbia resident Tyrone Turner owns two homes. Turner said he had an energy audit performed on both homes. While he experienced a savings in a home he's renting out, he's still waiting to see the results for himself. 

"I have more than one home, so I have some tenants that say they have noticed a big difference in their cooling bill. And we expect to see more savings on their heating bill. So we're looking forward to see[ing] what the saving really is going to be. Anytime you can save money in any way you can, I would highly recommend you take advantage of it. Economically, it's pretty economic to do this. Very, if any money out of pocket. So anything you get out of it, it's going to be a savings," Turner said.

Turner said his estimated savings on his utility bill is 35 percent.

Columbia Water and Light said businesses that switched to a more efficient lighting system saved more than $160,000 in 2014. Businesses can switch to the city's lighting incentive program, a program that upgrades the businesses lighting efficiency. The commercial customer can then be paid a rebate check up to $300 per kilowatt reduced, up to $22,500 or up to a 75 kilowatt reduction in the lighting system.

Columbia Water and Light doesn't have an estimated amount of money saved for commercial customers that have switched to different heating and air systems, but said customers have saved about $10,000 in solar electric for 2014. 

The city said it is trying to find ways to save the environment while saving money. 

"We look at internal operations. So, like, the energy efficiency of our facilities as well as other things, like recycling in the house, printing less, maybe ways we could do combined carpooling trips as well as encouraging our employees to bringing their own lunches. Or if we have meetings, for them to bring re-usable containers and not really have to purchase as much disposable," Office of Sustainability Manager Barbara Buffaloe said. 

The city said by doing smaller things like closing blinds on windows that receive direct sunlight during the day, people can also save money on their utility bills.