By Anna Lothson
Oak Parkers have the chance to save money and help their community by putting $25,000 in the pocket of a local nonprofit.
As part of the Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Program Community Challenge, the West Cook YMCA was chosen to be Oak Park's agency competing in the program with Evanston. Oak Park is currently leading and if by April 30, when the challenge ends, the village is still ahead, the YMCA will be awarded that $25,000.
Before that happens, however, more people need to get involved. Currently, Oak Park has raised over $16,000 for the project. This has been done by residents or businesses who participate in select Nicor Gas Energy Efficiency Programs that rebate funds back to the program based on how people participate.
Residents can get involved in six ways: Multi-Family Home Energy Savings, Home Energy Savings, Home Energy Efficiency Rebate, Energy BUZZ, Business Energy Efficiency Rebate and the Small Business Energy Savings Program. For every person or business participating in one of these programs, $50 will be awarded toward the community's final prize.
The YMCA was chosen as the organization to be the beneficiary of the challenge based on an online voting process in February. The money slated for the project, if Oak Park finishes as the leader of the challenge, will go toward installing new controls for boilers and possibly new windows to help better regulate temperature in the 1950s-era building.
The community challenge is a new initiative to help raise energy-efficiency awareness and action in two communities at a time. Energy BUZZ, for example is one of the projects being promoted right now. The free online program helps residents track energy use, save money and earn rewards. It also puts $50 in that pool to put Oak Park at the top of the challenge.