Energy conservation challenge pits North Smithfield against Cranston

Energy conservation challenge pits North Smithfield against Cranston

NORTH SMITHFIELD - Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton believes that residents in her green-minded town are ready to find ways to save energy. She's issued a challenge to Cranston Mayor Allan Fung in National Grid's "Find Your Four" competition.

The two communities are the first in the state to sign on to the Rhode Island Energy Challenge, a project hatched by Smart Power and National Grid with the goal of helping Rhode Islanders save $10 million on their energy bills by the end of 2014.

In a free report, residents can learn how their energy consumption compares with their neighbors and find four ways to reduce usage in their homes.

And Hamilton has told Fung that North Smithfield will get five percent of residents to sign up for the challenge and receive the report before Cranston does.

"I know that the people of North Smithfield are already environmentally tuned in. This will be great way to show the state just how committed we are and how we take this potential savings and helping our town very seriously," said Hamilton. "I told Mayor Fung we'd get there first. Now I'm hoping that the residents help us win."

Residents can join the challenge, the first of it's kind, which aims to promote energy conservation through a friendly competition - by signing up online at www.FindYourFour.com. The site offers the "North Smithfield" under affiliation and a link where residents can challenge their friends to participate by logging into their Facebook accounts.

Once a household is registered, the system generates a report detailing how energy consumption compares with other homes in the neighborhood. Users are asked to find four ways to reduce their energy usage, a simple act that can be both environmentally and pocketbook friendly.

The program is targeted at reducing the "phantom load" of power used in homes across the state - wasted energy that most residents are unaware they're consuming. With small acts like unplugging a microwave, or using a power strip to supply a flat screen television, energy users can make an impact and even see legitimate savings.

Hamilton said she entered the contest on a recommendation from National Grid because of the town's reputation for being environmentally conscious and because of the various energy reduction projects already in place in North Smithfield. Last year, the town was chosen to pilot a single-stream recycling program that has since been implemented statewide.

Hamilton is hopeful that once word of her friendly bet is out, residents will challenge their friends and neighbors to play along and the competition will catch on. After beating Cranston to the five percent mark, she believes North Smithfield could get bragging rights for becoming the most energy smart community in Rhode Island by getting others to sign onto the team.

"It becomes a great way to provide fun and healthy competition and a way to get the entire community involved," said Hamilton.

Go to www.FindYOurFour.com for more details. Updates on the project and the town's progress in the competition will be provided over the coming weeks.