will hold a workshop Oct. 4 on improving your home’s energy. Photo: house

In an effort to reduce energy consumption, Energy Upgrade California is sponsoring a contest that lets local schools win $250 for every household that completes an energy upgrade.

Last year, Alameda County schools raised $18,000 through “Energize for the Prize,” as the contest is called, with two Berkeley schools raising the most. Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement, a preschool, raised $5,700 and Rosa Parks Elementary School raised $3,500.

“Energize for the Prize is a real win-win in which residents help local schools raise thousands of dollars, while earning rebates for making their homes more energy-efficient,” said Wendy Sommer, principal program manager at StopWaste.Org, which is working with Energy Upgrade California. “Our goals this year are to provide schools with new ways to earn money, and to increase school and homeowner participation in order to educate more residents about the benefits of saving energy.”, is hosting a  workshop on energy upgrades and the contest on Thursday Oct. 4. It will take place from 6 to 7:30 pm at the North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library on The Alameda.

Those attending can hear officials talk about the “whole house” approach to energy efficiency, hear a testimonial from a local homeowner about his or her energy upgrade, meet contractors, and learn about financing options.

Six schools in Berkeley are participating in the contest this year, including Berkeley Arts Magnet, Berkwood Hedge, Emerson Elementary, Oxford Elementary, Rosa Parks Elementary, and Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement.

Installing an energy-efficient furnace or new double pane windows adding attic insulation and duct sealing can increase a home’s efficiency by 10 to 40 percent.

Schools participating in the contest receive $250 for every home that performs an energy upgrade, and a new “upgrade three, get one free” bonus provides $1,000 for every three energy upgrades..

 Energy Upgrade California is an alliance among California counties, cities, non-profit organizations, the state’s investor-owned utilities (Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, and San Diego Gas & Electric Company), and publicly owned utilities. Funding for this effort comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, also known as federal stimulus funds).

Register here for the workshop.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...