Upper Arlington has launched a three-month program with AEP Ohio designed to spur a number of energy-saving practices among residents and local businesses.

Upper Arlington has launched a three-month program with AEP Ohio designed to spur a number of energy-saving practices among residents and local businesses.

The city, Upper Arlington schools, Upper Arlington Public Libraries and the Upper Arlington Area Chamber of Commerce recently formed a consortium to promote and coordinate the Upper Arlington AEP Ohio Energy Savers Program.

Energy Savers, a pilot program created by AEP Ohio in late 2013, offers incentives to partner communities that can demonstrate residents and businesses are taking steps to reduce energy usage.

If at least 900 Upper Arlington households and businesses participate in one or more AEP Ohio energy programs by Aug. 31, the city will qualify for a $90,000 grant that would be used to install energy-efficient lighting in the upgraded Northam Park parking lot.

That project, city officials said, would benefit the park and its tennis courts, Tremont Elementary School, Tremont Pool and the UAPL's Main Branch.

"The city is pleased to be participating in this program along with our community partners -- the library, schools and chamber," said Emma Speight, Upper Arlington community affairs director.

"AEP Ohio has partnered with only a few communities on energy savings programs that are tied to an energy-efficient community project, so we are thrilled to be among the municipalities set to gain from helping our residents save energy, save money and help the community raise funds to help support improvements to the parking lot of our arguably most used community park."

Thus far, the Ohio cities of Lima and Louisville, as well as the Discovery District neighborhood in Columbus, have signed on as AEP Ohio Energy Savers Program partners.

According to Sherry Hubbard, research and development coordinator for AEP Ohio Energy Efficiency, the company wants to expand participation to eight to 10 Ohio communities by the end of this year.

"The idea is to engage communities in telling the story of the benefits of reducing energy use as an alternative to more conventional marketing programs," Hubbard said. "It's more of an outreach and engagement strategy than a marketing strategy."

Hubbard said AEP Ohio officials hope the program, which offers $10,000 to $90,000 in funding for community projects, compels customers to take steps to become more energy-efficient, not only to save themselves money but also to benefit their cities or neighborhoods.

To participate, residents should select from one or more of the following energy efficiency programs offered through AEP Ohio and then apply for the program, and schedule any needed appointments, by visiting EnergySavers2014.com or by calling 844-220-4128.

* Appliance Recycling Program: Receive $50 to have old refrigerators or freezers picked up and recycled for free. If residents refer a friend before June 30, they can earn an additional $25 when they recycle an appliance.

* Appliance Rebate Program: Receive a rebate for purchasing an ENERGY STAR Certified clothes washer, dehumidifier, refrigerator, freezer, television or qualified electric heat pump water heater.

* In-Home Energy Program: Residents can find out where energy is being wasted in their homes by scheduling a one-hour assessment for $25, or a four-hour comprehensive energy audit for all-electric homes for $50. With either option, residents will receive free installation of energy-saving products such as CFL light bulbs and will get a prioritized list of measures to help reduce energy consumption.

* Online Energy Checkup: Use AEP Ohio's Online Energy Checkup Tool and receive personalized recommendations for saving energy and a free energy efficiency kit by mail.

* ENERGY STAR Pledge: Commit to no- and low-cost energy savings activities by completing an online pledge through ENERGY STAR.

* Business Programs: There are also a number of ways for businesses to participate in the program, realize cost savings and incentives for eligible energy efficiency improvements made.

While most communities agree to pursue participation goals within a five-month period, Upper Arlington has set a three-month deadline.

Final costs for the Northam Park parking lot lighting had not been determined as of last week, but Speight said a $90,000 grant would "fund a significant portion of the lighting costs."

"The city has been impacted by significant revenue reductions -- loss of estate tax, Local Government Fund reductions -- and so finding alternate sources of funding is becoming ever more important for us," she said.

Additional details about the Upper Arlington AEP Energy Savers Program are available under the "Headlines" section on the city's homepage at uaoh.net, or by visiting EnergySavers2014.com.