Since the Minnesota Energy Challenge was launched in October, Minneapolis and St. Paul have reduced emissions of carbon dioxide by over 21 million pounds. Under the joint initiative between the Twin Cities and the nonprofit Center for Energy and the Environment, residents, businesses and other organizations pledge to reduce their energy use and carbon dioxide emissions by taking such simple steps as changing to high efficiency lighting, better controlling the operation of their heating and air conditioning systems, unplugging a second refrigerator and even driving a little slower. Once registered on the Web site, users gain access to a wealth of resources, energy-saving ideas and an energy calculator that helps households calculate their greenhouse gas emissions. The site also lets residents "donate" their energy savings to challenge teams such as schools, churches, businesses, cities and governments. An ongoing tally of how much energy each team saves is posted. To encourage more residents to take the challenge, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak recently awarded $1,000 micro-grants to 20 local neighborhood, church and nonprofit groups to fund their energy-saving ideas. The program went so well that Rybak hopes to offer it again next year.