NYSERDA Sponsored Energy Competition Saves Residents Money While Changing Their Habits
November 21, 2011
BROOKLYN – Residents in six Brooklyn neighborhoods participating in “Reduce the Use in District 39” have demonstrated how awareness, education and competition can lead to money-saving energy reductions.
The program was a year-long energy savings competition sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Con Edison and the office of New York City Councilman Brad Lander.
A total of 158 households in Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Borough Park took the challenge. On average, they cut their electricity usage by 4 percent over the course of the competition, compared to the previous year. Their overall savings was $2,542 and 12,108 kilowatt hours (kWh), the equivalent of the amount of electricity needed to power approximately two average-sized homes for a year.
“The competition made the participants look at their energy use in a new and different way – in comparison to their neighbors, friends, and other social connections,” said Francis J. Murray, Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA. “It shows that this type of program can make a difference in the way people use energy. Competition coupled with awareness is a strong motivation to reduce consumption.”
Innovative initiatives, such as this contest, are becoming more common nationwide, as using behavioral economics to lower energy consumption can be a way of impacting many homes that otherwise would be difficult to reach. Participants were provided with monthly reports on how much energy they used, how much they had reduced from last year, and how their numbers compared to their neighbors’ results. They also received energy-saving tips to help them reduce their electricity consumption and ideas to improve the energy performance of their homes.
“Congratulations to all the winners, who won not only for themselves but for the environment,” said Rebecca Craft, director of Energy Efficiency programs at Con Edison. “Many of them took simple steps, or made modest investments in their homes to save energy and reduce their monthly bills. Thousands of our residential and business customers are seeing rewards from using less energy.”
“This was a great opportunity for residents of the district, including my family, to take a closer look at our impact on the environment,” said Councilmember Lander. “Our community showed that when we take these steps – from unplugging an appliance that is not in use to installing solar panels – we can make a big difference to both our household budget and our carbon footprint.”
The winning neighborhood team was Windsor Terrace, which used the least amount of electricity per person during year -- 1,532 kWh, Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill came in a close second at 1,555 kWh per person. Kensington/Borough Park was third at 1,661 kWh per person, and Park Slope was fourth with 1,709 kWh per person.
Two Park Slope residents won special awards – one for the household with the “Smallest Footprint” (lowest total electrical usage), and the other for “Biggest Reduction” (the greatest reduction from last year).
The “Smallest Footprint” award went to Lloyd Hicks, whose household used only 213.7 kWh per person during the competition. “I liked the competition because it focused people around an important challenge – to save energy with a little competitive spirit. By comparing my usage to my neighbors’ I could see if I had room for improvements. When electric/gas utilities start sharing neighborhood benchmarks, this will help people see how much money they can save through home energy retrofits.”
The “Biggest Reduction” winner was Katherine Degn who reduced her household’s energy use by 49 percent compared to the previous year. “The competition and its monthly updates made me constantly aware of my energy consumption, more so than my monthly electric bills,” she said. “And I liked seeing my usage relative to Councilmember Brad Lander’s, so that gave me some sort of comparison.”
Residents achieved reductions by turning off lights, shutting off multiple appliances at once with advanced power strips, reducing the number of computers in use, cooking in microwaves and toaster ovens rather than full-sized ovens, using Con Edison’s free programmable thermostat initiative for central AC, and pulling down shades and closing windows during the summer days.
In addition to the Park Slope winners, Sarah Goodman of Windsor Terrace was a co-winner in each category, as she installed photovoltaic (PV) solar panels on her home in 2010 and reduced her electric bills to nearly zero. PV systems convert sunlight into electricity and generally offset 70 to 80 percent of a home’s electricity needs.
“Reduce the Use in District 39” was NYSERDA’s second pilot neighborhood energy-savings competition in Brooklyn. For more information about how you can be a part of future NYSERDA-sponsored energy competitions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on NYSERDA’s residential energy efficiency programs, visit nyserda.ny.gov/residential. For more information on Con Edison's energy efficiency programs, visit www.conEd.com/greenteam or call 1-800-870-6118.
NYSERDA, a public benefit corporation, offers objective information and analysis, innovative programs, technical expertise, and funding to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy, and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. NYSERDA professionals work to protect our environment and create clean-energy jobs. NYSERDA has been developing partnerships to advance innovative energy solutions in New York since 1975.
Last Updated: 01/17/2014