WILMINGTON, Ohio (AP) — A southwest Ohio county is trying to make a game out of cutting energy costs.
Helped by a University of Dayton researcher, the group Energize Clinton County aims to help homeowners and business owners identify ways to reduce energy use and costs through an online game called "Dropoly." The county has been struggling economically for several years, after DHL Express decided to move operations from the Wilmington Air Park. That affected thousands of jobs.
Users can go through their home room-by-room and see what impact making changes would have. They can see what savings can come from measures such as changing lighting use, reducing shower time, changing thermostats and unplugging some items around the house.
"It's such a powerful tool," Mark Rembert, co-founded of Energize Clinton County, told the Wilmington News Journal (http://bit.ly/SoDJGY). "It really identifies where opportunities are to making improvements to the home."
Kevin Hallinan, a mechanical and aerospace engineering professor, worked with the group on the project. It's been rolled out to 300 users for a test, and is planned to grow to 5,000. Future versions of the game might include ways for users to compete with neighbors and to win prizes.
"People don't have to spend money to save money on energy," said Hallinan. "Behavior changes alone can typically save a third. Everyone who logs in will see what they're losing by not acting."
Rembert said people like to save money, and Dropoly can help them do that in entertaining way. Lowering energy costs can help free up money to support local businesses, which can also use their savings to hire more people.
"The emphasis is about keeping jobs in the community," Hallinan said. "People save money and have income that may support local businesses. Businesses can use their savings to grow and employ more people."
University of Dayton researchers have also done energy assessments for building owners in Clinton County, providing specific action recommendations for energy reduction.
Information from: Wilmington News Journal, http://www.wnewsj.com/