Help Houghton County cash in on a $5 million jackpot and save on your utility bills at the same time. The Prize is the Georgetown University Energy Prize, a first of its kind incentive, awarded to the one US community that leads the competition in showing the most dramatic increase in energy efficiency.

What is the Prize?

In January, Houghton County was announced as one of 50 communities from across the country named as a semifinalist in the hunt for the Prize. Competing communities need to demonstrate their ability to reduce energy consumption over a two-year period (2015-2016).

A judging committee will evaluate participants on a specific set of weighted objectives including the ability to spur innovative approaches to decrease energy consumption, partnering with utilities, businesses and local governments to create and implement inventive plans for increased energy efficiency while educating the public and engaging community members on energy efficiency issues and inspiring the next generation of energy efficiency leaders in the classroom.

Determining the Winner

The winning community will lead the field in several categories using a scoring system of 100 potential points. Competition performance (actual reduction in residential and municipal use of electricity and natural gas) is worth 25 points, while innovation, potential for replication and overall quality and success are each worth 15 points. Likely future performance, education and equitable access, community and stakeholder engagement are each worth 10 points.

Let’s Bring it Home

Houghton County has a team to lead the effort to claim this Prize. The Houghton Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) is forging ahead with a plan to vault to the top of the competition. The Houghton County Energy Plan was developed in an earlier stage of the competition and was regarded highly enough to help Houghton County secure a spot in the semi-finals.

HEET has teamed up with our nonprofit to include a number of different initiatives designed to save on utility bills while vaulting Houghton County to the top of the competition, including weatherization, renewable energy and community education and outreach. All these actions result in energy savings for the utility customers of Houghton County. More money in the pockets of consumers in Houghton County means more money in the local economy, so this competition will have a ripple effect throughout our community.

When We Win

The Prize will go into a fund at the Keweenaw Community Foundation which will create a self-perpetuating program to continue efforts to make Houghton County energy efficient and independent.

Strive for the Prize!

If everyone in Houghton County makes at least one simple change to reduce their energy consumption it would go a long way to claiming the Prize. Some of the simplest ways to change your household’s energy consumption would be to turn off lights, TVs, computers and cell phone chargers which consume electricity even when not in use.

Save money while making your home more comfortable in the winter by identifying and sealing cracks around your windows and doors. Add insulation. Install foam behind your outlets and wall switches. These are simple tasks that do not require much in the way of investment of time or money and don’t require special knowledge or tools.

Help HEET spread the word by talking to your friends, neighbors and relatives about the Prize and the competition. Like HEET’s Facebook page and stay up to date there or by signing up for the newsletter. Explore opportunities to get involved with activities. Share your skills with your neighbors or turn to HEET to obtain guidance on completing energy efficient upgrades at your home, business, church or school.

The competition is already underway so think about how much the Prize would mean to Houghton County as you walk through your home looking for ways to save money. Turn off those lights as you leave the room. Every time you do, the 5 millionresidents of Houghton County get one step closer to that $5 million prize.