Fort Belvoir, Va. (July 3, 2014) - The Villages at Belvoir enticed Belvoir residents to reduce energy use during its Kill-A-Watt Electric Conservation Challenge at the Vernondale Neighborhood Center, Wednesday.

The contest is in line with the Resident Conservation Program implemented as a U.S. Army Residential Communities Initiative. The contest runs through Sept. 30 with each village competing to see which one can save the most energy.

"This particular plan is based on electricity, but we are shooting for all utilities," said David Martin, The Villages at Belvoir, utilities coordinator. "It benefits the residents with their bills."

The village that saves the most energy will receive a block party at one of the neighborhood centers. A contest to see which individual resident saves the most energy is taking place, too. That competition will extend three months beyond the village contest with the top 10 percent having their names entered in raffle for a weekend trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va.

"It's a great incentive for the Families to be concerned about the environment and save money," said Mercedes Alden, Rossell Village resident.

The biggest areas residents can reduce energy use is space heating, and space cooling. Combined, the two make up 43 percent of energy use in the home, according to Kyle Chandler, Minol USA, client relations manager-military division.

Chandler recommends residents set their air conditioning units between 75 and 78 degrees, and their heating units between 68 and 70 degrees.

"For every degree outside the recommended setting, your HVAC usage can increase by as much as three percent," said Chanlder.

Energy can be saved while cooking, too. When using their ovens, residents should not open the door as they can lose up to 25 percent of the heat each time it's opened.

Alden said she will keep this in mind from now on while cooking.

"I never knew that," said Alden. "That will help because I'm always opening the oven door to check on stuff when I cook."

Residents should be mindful of what Chandler calls "vampire electricity." A large number of electrical products including TVs, microwave ovens, computers, monitors and phone chargers cannot be switched off completely without being unplugged. These products draw power 24 hours a day, often without the knowledge of the consumer.

"A typical American home has forty products constantly drawing power which amount to 10 to 20 percent of residential electricity use," said Chandler.

The Villages at Belvoir will keep residents up to date on how much energy they are saving. Residents will receive notifications in their monthly bills, and every two weeks The Villages at Belvoir Facebook page will post updates on how each village is doing.

Residents can also track their own individual progress, according to Amanda Weeks, The Villages at Belvoir, community director.

"Residents can get on their online access and look at how they are doing day by day," said Weeks. "They have access to their daily usage data, so they can see on a busy weekend how their use differs from a Monday or a Tuesday."

Teaching residents how to save energy and ultimately money is the goal for the contest, according to Martin.

"It's hard to know how much energy you are using," said Martin. "I think this is a good concept all around."