This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 09, 2011

Kansans Save $2.3 Million in Challenge to Change Their Energy Behavior

How did the Climate and Energy Project (CEP), a small environmental organization that has received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, achieve $2.3 million in savings annually for Kansans?

They found a way to bring together community groups in an effort to foster energy efficient behavior. CEP engaged Kansas residents through the Take Charge Challenge, a nine-month competition in which residents across 16 communities competed against each other to save the most energy and money. These communities held over 1,000 events and programs involving over 400,000 Kansans. Community leadership got together to develop strategies on how to best get their friends and families to reduce energy waste, including changing their lightbulbs or weatherizing their houses.

Participants were saving money by saving energy and winning. The prize? Four communities each received a $100,000 energy efficiency or renewable energy grant. CEP recently announced the four regional winners, who will be supported by the Kansas Corporation Commission, which has received $47.7 million in Recovery Act Funds. The Commission allocated $1.2 million dollars—$400,000 for winners, $400,000 for communities to spend on the challenge, and $220,000 to CEP for staff, travel, promotion, and approved expenses—to run the challenge. Changing habits is no easy task, but when it becomes about winning, the benefits become much clearer: saving money, saving energy, and creating a sense of community pride. See the Energy Blog post.