Written by Kera Mashek, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FAIRBANK (KWWL) -
Four eastern Iowa communities are competing with each other to see which one can lower its energy use the most over the course of this year.
Readlyn, Fairbank, Dike and Hudson are trying to cut electric use as part of the "Get Energized, Iowa!" contest.
The goal--get as many people involved in "go green" projects all year as possible, earning points toward a big prize. Right now, the communities are now pedaling towards the finish line.
As a group of cyclists pedaled across eastern Iowa, they passed by homes and businesses doing their part to "go green". The bike ride is one of the final projects in a year-long commitment to reduce energy use in Readlyn, Fairbank, Dike and Hudson.
"The main thing we're trying to do is reduce peak hours our municipal has to use for peak energy. As they said, rates will go up. So if we can reduce the out of pocket expense, it's more money that can be spend in the town revitalizing it," said Jared Kane, Fairbank resident.
Jared Kane and his wife Rochelle are among about two dozen people who pedaled in the "Green Bike Tour" Sunday to showcase and raise awareness of those efforts. They're glad to be doing their part to save money and help the planet.
"Each person can do their own part. It's hard to see what a difference you're making when maybe you're just switching off lights or hanging your clothes out to dry, but each little thing definitely does make a huge difference," said Rochelle Kane.
The Kanes installed a programmable thermostat to make their home more energy efficient. Everyone in the four participating communities can sign up for a free energy audit to find out what steps they can take to "go green", too.
"Americorps out of UNI is coming into the towns. They're doing assessments first, then coming in and kind of buttoning up the house and reducing some of the inflow. They really do help you save energy," said David Osterberg, director of the Iowa Policy Project in Iowa City.
Those kinds of steps are already having a big impact on cutting back local power bills.
"We're below where we were last year. Even with that hot summer, we're still below. So we're crossing our fingers that at the end, the winning town is going to have substantial reduction in electricity use," Osterberg said.
The more people that participate in projects like this throughout the course of this year, earns more points for each community. The community with the most points at the end will earn a big prize: solar panels for its local high school.
The "Energize Iowa" project is made possible through several local grants and sponsorships awarded to the Iowa Policy Project.
Residents in the four selected communities can still participate and earn points toward the grand prize by taking steps to improve efficiency. To learn more, contact Green Iowa Americorps at (319) 273-7233 or click here.
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