The Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge has announced the top three Westport winners of its first Community Group Rewards Competition.

The Westport awardees in the contest, which challenged community partners to enlist residents to take steps to reduce home energy costs, include the Westport Warm-Up Fund with $1,000 in energy-related rewards, the Westport Woman's Club with $500 and Homes with Hope, a Westport-based agency that provides housing and services to homeless people, with $250.

The Westport Warm-Up Fund is a program run by the Westport Department of Human Services that supports vulnerable Westport households with heating assistance, according to a release from challenge organizers.

Groups in each of the other 13 participating Neighbor to Neighbor communities will be awarded similar prizes, recognizing their efforts to engage their members around home energy efficiency, the release states.

The competition's top point-earner and overall winner was the Friends of Cheshire Public Library, which received a grand prize of $5,000 in energy-related rewards. A complete list of community winners is available at http://ctenergychallenge.com/rankings_1.

Participating community groups earned points by hosting and encouraging residents to attend Home Energy Workshops. Groups also received points when their members received a Home Energy Solutions visit, or followed through with a home energy improvement, including adding insulation or new heating systems to reduce their homes' energy waste.

Community groups' point totals have been reset for a second round of competition, which ends on April 30, 2012. Community groups interested in participating in the competition and promoting energy-saving programs can email neighbors@ctenergychallenge.com or call 860-372-4406.

The challenge is a community energy savings program made possible by a $4.17 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, funded as part of the BetterBuildings initiative, whose mission is to create a self-sustaining building energy upgrade market, the release states. The Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge is one of 41 state and local government programs providing high quality energy improvements to homes and businesses across the nation.

The 13 participating towns, in addition to Westport, include Bethany, Cheshire, East Haddam, East Hampton, Glastonbury, Lebanon, Mansfield, Portland, Ridgefield, Weston, Wethersfield, Wilton and Windham.

Over three years, Neighbor to Neighbor will engage residents in 14 towns, helping them reduce their energy use by 20 percent. The program is administered by the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund and draws resources and experience from several partner organizations, including Earth Markets, Clean Water Fund, the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, EMpower Devices, MIT, SmartPower, Snugg Home, Mobile Genius and the Student Conservation Association.

For information, visit http://www.CTEnergyChallenge.com.

Home Energy Solutions is a program of the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund in partnership with CL&P, UI and the natural gas utilities. Home Energy Solutions is available to all Connecticut residents for a limited time at the low price of $75, although the work performed during the assessment is valued at approximately $750. Connecticut residents who participate in Home Energy Solutions can expect to save an average of $200 a year from the measures taken during the assessment.

For more information on HES and information about the Community Group Rewards Competition, visit www.CTEnergyChallenge.com/HES.