ATLANTA – To help Georgians conserve energy at home and to save money, the Governor’s Energy Challenge recently launched a new interactive Web site. Georgia residents can visit the site, fill out a home profile and receive a customized list of energy-saving options calculated specifically for their home. Georgians who accept the Governor’s Energy Challenge can pledge to reach the program’s 15 percent goal by choosing no-cost, low-cost, and longer-term energy efficiency measures.

“The new Governor’s Energy Challenge Web site helps Georgia residents easily identify ways in which they can save energy,” said Phil Foil, executive director of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority (GEFA).  “I encourage everyone to visit the Web site, take the challenge, and contribute to our state’s culture of conservation.”

For many Georgians, reaching the Governor’s Energy Challenge target of 15 percent can be met by adjusting heating and cooling thermostat settings, changing water heater settings, and caulking and weather stripping windows and doors. Others might need to opt for longer-term or investment measures such as adding insulation, exchanging old appliances for energy efficient models, and replacing inefficient heating and cooling systems.

In April 2008, Gov. Sonny Perdue committed Georgia’s state agencies to reduce energy consumption 15 percent and challenged Georgia businesses, local governments and citizens to do the same. Georgia’s population is projected to grow to more than 12 million people by 2030. This growth will significantly impact Georgia’s energy, land and water resources.The governor’s challenge plays an active role in providing information to Georgia businesses and residents on how to protect the state’s natural resources and to grow Georgia’s economy.

Unique software from Georgia-based APOGEE Interactive drives the energy pledge calculator on the site. Apogee runs each pledge through a comprehensive company database to generate energy use estimates, calculate savings percentages and project optimal pledge options for your home. Apogee co-founder Joel Gilbert directed the senior Apogee team that customized the software unique to home construction in Georgia, local weather zones, and home energy equipment.

“We want to provide valuable information Georgians can use, and not vague national averages,” said Gilbert.  “It requires meshing a powerful set of data with achievable changes people can make to reach their 15 percent goal. We’re hoping whole families will jump in, even neighborhoods and entire communities.”

Apogee’s core energy analysis software was recently certified by RESNET® as its first-ever Web-based Home Energy Rating Software (HERS) tool. The accreditation requires passing a stringent battery of tests for accuracy developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Lab and Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).

GEFA contracted with McRae Communications to develop and design the new site. It was funded with federal dollars from the state energy program, which GEFA administers in the state of Georgia for the U.S. Department of Energy.  A commercial energy pledge calculator will be available in April for businesses, local governments and school systems.

Georgians can check out the EnergyStar Appliance Rebate Program for a list of qualified appliances eligible for rebates that might assist them with their appliance-related pledge actions. Launched on Feb. 12, 2010, the state’s appliance rebate program will provide rebates for eligible appliances until the funding is exhausted. More information regarding the appliance rebate program is available at the Georgia Rebate site.

Shane Hix is director of the public affairs division of the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, or GEFA, which provides financial assistance and administers programs that encourage stewardship of the environment and promote economic development statewide.