CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Charlottesville is in the running for a $5-million prize to change the way homes, businesses, and the city use energy. Georgetown University Energy Prize announced Charlottesville as one of 50 communities nationwide to compete for big winnings.

According to their website, the Georgetown University Energy Prize challenges towns, cities, and counties to rethink their energy use, and implement creative strategies to increase efficiency. Currently, a select group of communities are leading the way by bringing together their local governments, residents, utilities, and to demonstrate success in reducing energy consumption over a two-year period.

The group Energize!Charlottesville is developing a plan to earn the prize. It will involve creating awareness campaigns, changing city policies, and encouraging home and business owners to invest in energy efficiency upgrades.

“We're so used to using energy now with different electronic devices, I think a lot of people often forget that there are things they can do that they start adopting it into their regular behavior or it's something they can set up in their home, do it once, and it goes on autopilot to continue to help them save,” said Susan Elliott, the Charlottesville Climate Protection Program coordinator.

Charlottesville is one of three Virginia communities in the competition. Prize directors will track their progress to reduce energy through 2016 before selecting finalists.