David Kolata of the Citizens Utiility Board presents Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl with a plaque indicating that Evanston topped other Illinois communities in saving electricity costs. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

Amid dozens of stacked boxes of compact fluorescent light bulbs, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl accepted an award from the Citizens Utility Board for Evanston’s being the community to save the most electricity with CUB Energy Saver. CUB Energy Saver, a free online program found at CUBEnergySaver.com, gives households a “personalized plan to cut their utility bills, tracks real savings and rewards families with shopping discounts for reducing their electricity usage,” CUB officials say.

Last year, Evanston residents vied with other Illinois communities to be the one that saved the most electricity using the CUB program. The boxes represented only about a third of the 21,650 CFLs that were the top prize for the competition.

“We came in first, but that’s nothing compared to what we’re going to do,” Mayor Tisdahl said.

Together with CUB executive director David Kolata, she announced a yearlong energy-saving competition among the City’s top seven employers. In “The Big 7 Savers Challenge,” teams representing Evanston’s largest employers – St. Francis Hospital, Rotary International, Northwestern University, Northshore University Health System, School District 65, Evanston Township High School and the City – will compete to see who can build the biggest team and rack up the largest home energy savings with CUB Energy Saver (www.CUBEnergySaver.com/Evanston).

“Twenty-six percent of our community’s greenhouse gas emissions are related to residences,” the mayor said. Participating in this competition will help the community adhere to its pledge to reduce its carbon footprint 13 percent by the year 2012, she added.

“Usually when you do more with less, you talk about sacrifice,” said Jack Darin, head of the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club. “But when we talk about cutting energy, there is no pain. I’m proud of what the City is doing. … [This is important] … to create a better future for our children. … And may the best savers win.”

Any ComEd customer can join the new competition, Mr. Kolata said, and at the end of 2011, a member from each winning team will win a year of free electricity.