Monday, November 2, 2009

Electric Utilities Are Invited to Shed Light on Energy Efficiency

/PRNewswire/ -- Electric utilities across the country are invited to help bring consumers out of the dark about the importance of energy efficiency. Power companies can now provide easy access to information about their energy efficiency programs at no charge on www.ziptogreen.com, a new one-stop online resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions. ZiptoGreen's user-friendly format can link consumers by ZIP Code to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs offered by their electric utility. A survey conducted by ZiptoGreen found that more than 75 percent of consumers do not connect to their utility for help in reducing energy consumption.

Beginning with the end of daylight savings time until the clocks move forward again, power companies can collaborate with ZiptoGreen to illuminate the importance of energy efficiency by providing links to their energy efficiency programs and incentives at no charge. When daylight savings time arrives in March, ZiptoGreen hopes consumers are "enlightened" about the importance of partnering with their utility to meet their energy reduction goals. Utilities that collaborate with ZiptoGreen during this period can become Charter Members and substantially reduce their participation fees thereafter.

"Many consumers are too busy and overwhelmed to spend time looking for programs offered by their utility company," says Julia Glenn Carter, founder and CEO of ZiptoGreen. "A comprehensive website was needed that gives residential consumers easy access to the wealth of energy efficiency solutions available right now, including those offered by utilities. Such a website is essential if we are going to tackle our energy challenges any time soon. Consumers need and want help reducing their monthly costs."

According to a report released in October by the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy, a weak economy has contributed to lower energy consumption in both the commercial and residential sectors. Experts expect consumption to increase as the economy rebounds, however. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce report released last week, modest but consistent growth from July to September suggests economic recovery has begun. While natural gas prices have fallen with the economy, coal prices for electricity generation are expected to increase by 7 percent, according to the EIA report.

ZiptoGreen helps consumers become energy efficient by making it easy for them to create and implement a customized action plan. Users of the website can see in real-time the impact actions have on estimated energy usage. When a user clicks on an incentive icon associated with a specific action, ZiptoGreen calls up a window with incentive information. Currently, federal tax incentive information is featured; however, participating utilities and state governments can provide incentive information on their programs by ZIP Code.

ZiptoGreen also provides ongoing support to help consumers achieve energy reduction goals. Users can schedule and receive email reminders of their actions. In addition, they are given a personal page to monitor and update their reduction plan, and product discount "rewards" to motivate action.

"Most people need a little hand holding to change a habit. How we consume energy is definitely a habit," says Carter.

From the personal page, ZiptoGreen supports users by providing links to local resources serving their ZIP Code, including the energy efficiency and renewable energy programs of participating utilities. The sustainability programs of cities that have signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Program are also featured. Any community, however, can provide these links to their residents at no charge. Interested local governments should email ZiptoGreen at communities@ziptogreen.com.

User access to all resources on www.ziptogreen.com is free of charge.

ZiptoGreen was a featured link on the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy during its launch in Washington, D.C. The website is owned by LaCour Incorporated, a privately-held corporation based in Atlanta, Georgia. For additional information visit www.ziptogreen.com.

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