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Mar 082011

From Green Right Now Reports

The Citizens Utility Board has awarded Evanston 21,650 light bulbs and kicked off a contest pitting the city’s top seven employers in a battle over who can rack up the biggest home energy savings with www.CUBEnergySaver.com, an online service to pay people rewards for cutting their power bills.

The winning teams in the “Big 7 Savers Challenge” will get special recognition from Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, and two people will win a year of free electricity, courtesy of CUB. All participants will get a personalized plan to cut their utility costs, and they will be rewarded with points for cutting their Commonwealth Edison bills that can be redeemed for gift cards or discounts at hundreds of local and national businesses.

The “Big 7″ competing are St. Francis Hospital, Rotary International, Northwestern University, NorthShore University HealthSystem, District 65, District 202 (Evanston Township High School) and the city.

“Evanston’s top employers are leaders in the community, so what better group to lead the charge in a campaign to cut residential electric bills than the ‘Big 7,’” Mayor Tisdahl said in a statement. “Nobody thinks their utility bills are too low, so everybody’s a winner in this contest because everybody’s saving money.”

The 21,650 CFLs were awarded to Evanston as top prize for last year’s CUB Energy Saver Community Challenge. The bulbs have a total savings potential of about $1.1 million over their lifetime.

Evanston residents received the bulbs and the consumer group’s “Super Savers” award by besting hundreds of other Illinois communities to save the most electricity, 50,321 kilowatt-hours, enough to power 125 refrigerators for a year and cut carbon-dioxide pollution by more than 85,000 pounds. That also meant $6,542 in real savings.

Evanston also won the contest for the most members, with 330 participants. Officials hope to increase CUB Energy Saver’s Evanston membership tenfold with the new competition.

In the “Big 7 Savers Challenge,” one prize will go to the institution that recruits the most people—employees or non-employees—to sign up for CUB Energy Saver through a special, webpage personalized for that institution. Another prize will go to the team whose members rack up the biggest energy savings.

Anyone in ComEd’s territory who signs up through one of these pages automatically becomes part of that institution’s team. So the contest encourages employees to get friends and family to join and help their institution win. To sign up for a particular team, go to CUB’s website and click on the “Big 7 Savers Challenge” link.

Winning teams get a plaque from the mayor. As an added incentive, a person from each winning team will be randomly selected to win a year of free power, up to $1,800, from CUB.

CUB Energy Saver, launched in June of 2010, is the result of a partnership between CUB and two New York City-based companies: Efficiency 2.0 and Recyclebank. In just seven months, this state-of-the-art service saved Illinois families $114,091 and 877,624 kilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to power the average Land of Lincoln home for a century.

Those are confirmed savings, not estimates, because CUB Energy Saver links to actual ComEd bills. Just as Netflix gives people personalized movie recommendations, CUB Energy Saver suggests hundreds of money-saving actions that are personalized for a particular home.

The service then rewards families two points for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they save. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards, museum passes, and restaurant and shopping discounts. People can get rewards from national brands, such as Huggies, and CVS/Pharmacy, but also local businesses, such as LuLu’s, The Olive Mountain, Happy Husky Bakery, and Chaz Nutrition & Health.