116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Hundreds of households in Iowa City could start seeing energy savings thanks to a program launched this past weekend that’s part of the city’s climate action plan to increase sustainability and reduce emissions.
Dozens of volunteers took part in the city’s first “Energy Blitz,” held in the South District but eventually expanding.
“The project aims to put energy saving kits in the hands of 1,300 households on the southside of Iowa City,” said Sarah Gardner, the city’s climate and outreach engagement specialist.
On Saturday, about 30 volunteers went door-to-door handing out the kits. More kits were distributed Sunday at a booth the city hosted at an Earth Day neighborhood cleanup event. Green Iowa AmeriCorps members also are scheduled to hand out remaining kits this week.
Gardner said the kits contain a number of items designed to help Iowa City residents save money on their energy bills. Among them are five LED light bulbs.
“Replacing a home’s five most commonly used light bulbs with more efficient LEDs can save $75 per household on average,” Gardner said.
Another item is a furnace whistle, which — after being punched into the furnace filter — will start to whistle when the filter is ready to be changed. That ensures the furnace is running at peak efficiency and also allows residents to get the most out of their filters, Gardner said.
The final item is a sand timer for showers.
“If you shorten your shower by one minute each time you shower, you will save 550 gallons of water a year, per household member,” Gardner said.
The kits cost about $12 each, bringing the cost of the project — part of the city’s climate action plan — up to $16,000. It is funded by the city’s emergency tax levy, a sales tax implemented last year to fund the climate action plan. The light bulbs alone could create $97,500 in annual savings. Gardner said the kits could also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 574 pounds per household.
“Individual actions — when taken as a group — do add up and make a difference,” she said. “We want to be empowering residents to take actions that help them in their household costs while also helping the city achieve its climate goals.”
Gardner said the South District was targeted for the first energy blitz due to the older housing stock and for being one of Iowa City’s most diverse neighborhoods. The city hopes to host similar events on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis in the future.
“I think we’ve learned a lot and are excited to be moving the project forward,” Gardner said.
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