Ann Arbor challenges residents to compete for greatest energy savings

In July, Ann Arbor's Office of Sustainability and Innovation (OSI) collaborated with the nonprofit GreenHome Institute to launch the Race to Zero Energy Challenge for Ann Arbor residents. The free competition will challenge Ann Arbor homeowners and renters to see who can save the most energy before the end of December. 

Missy Stults, director of OSI, describes the challenge as “a combination of friendly competition and education for residents to improve their energy bills, raise their comfort in their homes, and save energy.” Participants will receive an energy assessment of their homes to see where they have opportunities to save on gas, electric, and water usage – and, by extension, save money. 

“This is about behavior change,” Stults says. “Will some things fall back? Probably. We are human. But participants may see a 10% to 30% decrease in their energy bills, and improve the air quality in their homes.” 

Organizers also hope that participants will get excited about energy efficiency, and “pass information along to their friends and coworkers to cause a bigger shift in the community,” says Stults. 

OSI has also implemented a Zero Waste challenge in partnership with the nonprofit Live Zero Waste, which focuses on reducing trash and recycling waste. 

“We have 38 active initiatives,” Stults says. “Maybe you’re not excited about energy consumption, but you’re excited about reducing waste, or tree planting. We’re happy to meet you where you are.”

To learn more about the Race to Zero Energy Challenge or to sign up to participate, visit a2gov.org/energychallenge

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.