The Southern Indiana Renewable Energy Network (SIREN) is a local group dedicated to increasing the amount of renewable energy used in the area. This is an especially important goal around here, since almost all of our power is currently produced by coal.
Maggie and I have gone to one or two meetings and found them very interesting. Their focus appears to be primarily solar energy, with several group members getting together to buy solar panels in bulk. Unfortunately, even then solar panels are expensive since Indiana doesn’t have any solar incentives. As near as we’ve been able to figure, our break-even period would be over 30 years, which makes it hard to justify.
Recently, however, SIREN has begun advertising the SIREN Energy Showdown. The goal of the contest is to get people to reduce the amount of electricity they use in 2010 as compared to 2009. Although you have to meet certain requirements to win prizes (owning a house in Monroe county, etc), anyone can sign up to play for fun. If you do qualify, you can sign up to win some cool prizes, including a 1kW solar system as the grand prize.
We’ve already signed up and are looking forward to tracking our electricity more carefully. I’ve started checking our daily usage instead of just our monthly usage and I’m using my Kill-o-Watt to figure out what our big energy hogs are. I don’t expect that we’ll win anything (we’ve already done most of the easy stuff), but I think we could still reduce our usage by 10%. Reducing our electrical usage by 10% could save us more than $60 a year. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, it would also reduce our CO2 production by over half a ton!
Even if you can’t compete, I encourage you to sign up and see how much you can reduce your usage. Let me know if you do sign up and especially if you have any good energy-saving tips!