Westport residents were asked Monday to accept a challenge that would reduce their home energy use, improve efficiency by at least 20 percent and save a significantly on utility bills.

Energy conservation advocates launched the Westport Home Energy Challenge at a Town Hall meeting before about 40 people -- almost half of them Staples High School students -- at Town Hall.

The goal of the program, which involves inspections of appliances, insulation, heating and cooling systems and lighting by an energy advisor, is to conduct a Home Energy Solutions assessment in at least 10 percent of the town's homes, or about 1,000 homes, in the next three years.

It sounds like a low number, but it's actually quite high, according to Alan Abramson, co-chairman of the effort.

But at least one town official is optimistic that more homeowners will embrace the program.

"We don't have to stop at 10 percent," said First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who has signed up for the energy audit.

Joseloff said the audit's $75 fee is a very little cost that will provide a substantial payback. He said he was grateful to see so many young people there because they can influence their parents to participate.

The students were there to learn about the program and to gain extra credit for school.

"In our class we're talking a lot about energy conservation and different ways of recycling, the pros and cons of it. It'll be interesting to see how it will be implemented in our hometown," said Vinny Amaru, 18, an Advanced Placement Environmental Science student at Staples High School.

Westport, one of 14 Connecticut municipalities to federal funding for the program, is the only town in the state providing an energy advisor to help homeowners understand and act on home energy assessment recommendations, according to Roger Smith, of the Clean Water Fund. Smith said the project has the potential to save Westport homeowners a total of $15 million, the equivalent of taking 4,945 passenger vehicles off the road.

Westport uses more energy than all but Weston among the 14 participating communities, according to figures presented at Monday's meeting,

Several Westport homeowners have already benefited from the program and report positive results.

Harold Foodman said his audit and subsequent home improvements lowered his utility bills and he believes it increased the value of his home. Foodman was featured in a short film created by Staples students Ben Meyers, 18, and Nicki Brill, 17, which will be used as part of the marketing campaign to get the word out about the Westport Home Energy Challenge.

Another homeowner included in the film said the program's energy auditor will provide unbiased information and will help educate the public to make better choices.

The program will soon have a website, which will track the energy savings of those households willing to let such information be recorded.

"Westport is an environmental leader and this project will make is more so," Smith said.

Smith will present a Neighborhood Energy Workshop at 7 p.m. Monday, April 25, and 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 26, at Westport Town Hall Auditorium. The workshop will address energy-saving potential of homes, prioritizing home improvements, ice dams, their causes and preventive measures and the availability of tax credits, finance options and rebates for energy efficient home improvements.

For information about the Westport Home Energy Challenge, visit its Facebook page or follow its organizers on Twitter, @westportgtf.