Researchers with the Iowa Policy Project (IPP) say Iowans can save energy and money by engaging in a little friendly competition. Will Hoyer, with IPP, co-authored a report about communities that have held contests on energy efficiency. In 2009, six towns in Kansas with 11,000 total residents took part in a contest and – combined – saved over six-million kilowatt hours of energy in one year.

“The Kansas competition, and others we wrote about, show significant savings are possible – perhaps as much as five-percent, which translates into millions of dollars,” Hoyer said. A three-week long competition at Luther College in Decorah saved $50,000 worth of electricity.

Another contest in Minnesota saved $13 million dollars a year over five years. Hoyer says changing people’s behavior in terms of energy use isn’t always easy, but tapping into their competitive spirit can do the trick. The IPP is working on an energy conservation competition in northeast Iowa.

“We’re looking into the possibility of running a competition between four small towns in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area,” Hoyer said. “We’re working on developing the details right now, but we anticipate this would be a nine month to year-long competition, much like what they did in Kansas.” The full report, titled “Energy Efficiency: Making a Game of It,” is available at: