For Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who visited Greencastle Friday, it's a much bigger issue. However, the savings is the key to getting people on board.
"Americans may not want to get into the theology of climate change or CO2, but they are interested in saving money," Lugar said. "People understand saving money."
Cloverdale Comm-unity Schools won the challenge, cutting energy bills by 20 percent, or $12,731, during March and April. North Putnam was second in the challenge.
"We saved $12,000, roughly, in a two-month period, which cut costs at the high school alone by about 30 percent in the months of April and May," CHS assistant principal and energy coordinator Brent Sailor said. "In doing the math and conserving, we're hoping to sustain that and over a year save quite a bit of money. In the same process, just continue the same efforts we started with the electricity and the lights."
Greencastle Schools, which started an energy savings program five years ago, won the savings per square foot challenge, at $.14 per square foot. Cloverdale was second in this competition.
"It's the people making the effort," Greencastle coordinator Mike Schimpf said. "People have decided, 'I'm done for the day, I'm going to shut my computer off.' You think -- a couple pennies. Well, there are over 1,000 computers in the Greencastle School District. That's a lot of pennies."
Lugar expressed his admiration for the students and their efforts, calling energy savings "our challenge as patriots who value our country and way of life."
The senator related how energy dependence affects our security and how competition among nations for energy sources only complicates the matter.
"Americans have been unable to work this out in a way that's brought us greater security and independence."
He said the key lies in grassroots efforts such as Putnam RISE, people deciding they would just like to save a little bit of money in their homes, businesses and schools.
Lugar also noted the difference the students are making and the promise this holds for the future. This view is shared by local leaders.
"The credit goes to the students and the teachers to reinforce that," North Putnam coordinator Kristy Hankins said. She added it was the students' responsibility at Bainbridge Elementary School to make sure lights were turned off upon leaving a room.
"I just continue to be inspired by the efforts of students and young people who continue to respond and exceed expectations every time," said Steve Setchell, who is spearheading the Putnam RISE effort. "You can think about the future of your community and be encouraged and enthusiastic."
Setchell said the community can also be proud of its continuing sustainability efforts and how much they fall in line with Sen. Lugar's goals for the country.
"This is one of the meaningful moments of connection between what we're doing in the community and the most important issues that we're facing in the world. It's certainly an honor to have the recognition of Sen. Lugar, who came to make those connections and to recognize how our efforts match up with his aspirations for an energy efficient community, state and nation," Setchell said.