Ontario's "Count Me In! Community Challenge Day" is this Friday: Final Pledge Push, Preparations for Energy Savings Competition Underway

    TORONTO, Aug. 12 /CNW/ - With two days until "Count Me In! Community
Challenge Day," Ontario's 82 participating municipalities are making their
final push for conservation pledges and to reduce their electricity use by the
highest percentage.
    Challenge Day is Friday, August 14th from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and
coincides with the anniversary of the 2003 North American blackout. Winners
will be chosen for highest percentage megawatt savings and for pledges per
capita online at www.countmeinontario.ca, or toll-free (877-261-1133) by 8:00
    Although 82 communities have officially registered, all Ontarians are
encouraged to reduce their electricity use on this day and to take advantage
of the interactive campaign website--it offers ideas on conservation,
contests, useful resources for kids and adults on saving energy and much more.
With just two days to go, here are key action steps virtually anyone can take
to reduce electricity use on Community Challenge Day:

    At Home:

    Try taking a shorter shower. Turn off all inessential lights and defer
using your washer or dryer, or dishwasher until after 8:00 p.m. Raise your air
conditioning by at least a couple of degrees, and/or use a fan, or turn off
your air conditioner and open your windows if appropriate. Draw your
shades/blinds to keep out the heat. Decide what you want before you open your
fridge. If you're cooking during the day, choose a toaster oven or microwave
for heating smaller portions. Defrost frozen food in your fridge. Your
computer and game consoles should be off if not in use. Replace incandescent
bulbs with compact fluorescents.

    At Work:

    Use stairs instead of an elevator if feasible. Make sure the
energy-saving features of your office/industrial equipment are operating.
Ensure that meeting rooms are not lit up if they're empty. Keep entrance doors
closed to avoid air conditioning the outside. Avoid overprinting or copying
documents needlessly. Use natural light as much as possible, but draw
shades/blinds where they beat the heat. Dim, turn off or remove lights near
windows in the daytime. Replace old, inefficient lighting with
energy-efficient alternatives, if time permits. Use power bars to shut off
equipment not in use. Unplug coffeemakers, toasters and microwaves that are
not in use. Make sure your organization's dishwasher is set to clean
afterhours, i.e., after 8:00 p.m.
    These and many other ideas on how to conserve that require additional
preparation time--but which offer lasting benefits--are available on the
campaign website: www.countmeinontario.ca.
    "Count Me In! Ontario" is part of a broader effort to help the province
achieve the most ambitious conservation targets in North America--the
equivalent of taking one-in-five electricity users off the grid by the end of
2025--and to create a true "culture of conservation."
    The Count Me In! Community Challenge Day is an extension of the Blackout
Day Challenge developed by the City of Woodstock. It has been organized by the
Ontario Power Authority in conjunction with Mayor Michael Harding of Woodstock
and is supported by the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Electricity
Distributors Association, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Hydro
One, and the Independent Electricity System Operator, which is responsible for
assessing the outcome of the megawatt challenge.
    Community Challenge Day is the final element of an overall spring-summer
energy conservation campaign organized by the Ontario Power Authority. It
began with a Leadership Summit on April 23rd, followed by Ontario's second
provincewide Energy Conservation Week, May 17th and 23rd.
    For the complete list of participating communities and their relative
position in the competition based on pledges, view the interactive map on the
campaign website. The pledge count is also reported; to see it change over the
course of the day, periodically refresh your Web browser.
    Results of the province-wide challenge will be announced at the
Association of Municipalities of Ontario Annual Conference on the morning of
August 19th in Ottawa.


    "With the final push before us, I challenge my fellow mayors to seek as
many pledges as possible and to translate them into energy savings on Friday,"
says Mayor Michael Harding of Woodstock. "While I'd obviously like to see my
own community come out on top, no matter who emerges as the winner on August
19th, everyone gains from using resources more wisely."

For further information:

For further information: Ontario Power Authority, (416) 969-6307

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