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Columbia competes for $5 million energy efficiency prize

The City of Columbia is competing for a $5 million prize for energy efficiency.

Columbia is one of the top 50 semifinalist communities in the country to compete for the Georgetown University Energy Prize. It will be competing against the other cities for the next two years to see who can save the most energy.

At the end of 2016, the winner will receive $5 million to go toward energy improvements within the city.

“We need everyone’s help because Georgetown is really big about involving the entire community in our efforts,” Brenna Reed, Columbia’s sustainability educator said.

Each month, Reed will be keeping track of how much energy the entire city uses, divide that by the number of residents and send the results to Georgetown.

This weekend, the CoMo Energy Challenge kicked off at two Westlake Ace Hardware locations.

Organizers educated shoppers on different ways to conserve energy within their own homes. Reed said that includes buying energy efficient products like LED lights or calk to seal air leaks around doors and windows. That also includes taking advantage of energy efficient programs around the city. For example, Columbia Water and Light offers incentives to electric customers who use solar energy.

CoMo Energy Challenge organizers are asking Columbia residents where they would like to see the $5 million go if Columbia wins.

“That’s what we’re asking residents of the community is how would you want us to spend the money,” Reed said. “So according to Georgetown we have to spend it on energy improvements for the community. So we could do things like LED streetlights, community solar, community renewable energy, neighborhood loan funds for different neighborhood associations to make upgrades to their homes.”

According to Columbia Water and Light, there are several things you can do in the winter to be energy efficient: open window shades during the day and close them at night, lower your thermostat setting at night or when no one is at home and replace air filters often.

If you would like to participate in the CoMo Energy Challenge, you can find more information here.

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