ICF launches energy-reduction effort in Maryland

WASHINGTON: ICF International has launched an effort for client Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative to encourage customers to reduce energy consumption 3% between this month and the end of June.

WASHINGTON: ICF International has launched an effort for client Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative to encourage customers to reduce energy consumption 3% between this month and the end of June.

The primarily digital initiative is called the “SMECO Energy Savings Challenge.” It urges customers to sign in to an Energy Challenge site, connect to their account online, and link it to a Facebook account.

The cooperative's hope is that the campaign will make reducing energy fun and social since SMECO customers can compare their energy use with friends on Facebook, said Natalie Zandt, program coordinator at ICF International.

The Energy Challenge site, developed by ICF and customer-engagement platform OPOWER, will track and report energy savings and show how customers' energy use stacks up against consumers across the US.

“The average person spends about six minutes a year thinking about their energy use. This challenge aims to change that, and get more people thinking critically about how they can reduce their energy use,” Zandt added.

To promote the effort, the firm emailed marketing materials to more than 100,000 customers and reached out via social media, as well as conducting press outreach. Last year, SMECO signed a three-year contract with ICF for $4 million, and funding for this campaign is coming from this account, said Jonathan Jordan, principal at ICF International. He did not specify a campaign budget.

To encourage an even-greater energy reduction, SMECO is offering a prize to customers who can drop their energy consumption by the greatest percentage compared with their 2012 energy-use baseline. The grand prize is a $1,000 Sears gift card for the purchase of any Energy Star-certified Kenmore appliance.

A SMECO representative was not available for comment.

Last week, ICF won a $2 million communications contract with the Association of Bay Area Governments to develop a two-year outreach program promoting energy efficiency in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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