Most congregations can cut energy costs about 30% through strategic investments in efficient equipment, facility upgrades, and maintenance. With free, unbiased information and technical support from ENERGY STAR, your congregation can confidently make investments to improve stewardship of your energy dollars, while reducing global warming emissions at the same time.
Purchasing a professional, comprehensive energy audit is ideal, but not always available or affordable. So, if your congregation "doesn't do anything else," these 12 "sure savers" can save money for your mission and leave a healthier earth for our children.
1) Turn off lights and equipment when not in use. High utility costs often include energy completely wasted by equipment "left on” for periods while not in use.
2) Always buy ENERGY STAR -qualified products when a purchase is necessary. Products that earn the ENERGY STAR label, including office and kitchen equipment, meet high efficiency performance standards.
3) Everyone sometimes forgets to turn off lights, so install switch plate vacancy sensors to automatically turn off lights when no one is present. This switch has to "see" people moving, so don’t install it behind a coat rack, door, etc.
4) Adjust lighting to actual needs and use free "daylighting." Too much light can be as bad for visual quality as too little lightand it costs a lot moreso prevent glare, eyestrain, and headaches by not “over-lighting.”
5) "Tune-up" your heating/air-conditioning (HVAC) system with an annual or pre-season maintenance contract. Besides saving money, your system may last years longer.
6) Conserve water, especially hot water, to conserve energy. Small leaks add up to many wasted gallons and dollars. Water temperature should be about 110-120 degrees (check your local code) to prevent scalds and save money.
7) Install an ENERGY STAR-qualified programmable thermostat to automate your HVAC system. This device optimizes HVAC operation “24/7” based on your schedule, and can be “overridden” as needed for unscheduled events.
8) Replace incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), wherever appropriate. CFLs cost about 75% less to operate, and last about 10 times longer. Consider upgrading older T12 tubes to more efficient T8 or T5 fluorescent tubes with solid-state electronic ballasts.
9) Install LED (light-emitting diode) exit signs. LED exit signs virtually eliminate bulb replacement, use 95% less energy than incandescent bulbs, and are brighter to see through smoke.
10) Control direct sun through windows, depending on the season and local climate. “Solar screens/films,” awnings, and vegetation can reduce summer heat gain, and in winter letting the sunshine in can reduce heating bills.
11) Use fans to delay and reduce air-conditioning needs. A temperature setting of 3 to 5 degrees higher can feel comfortable with fans, and each degree of higher temperature can save about 3% on cooling costs.
12) Plug air leaks with weather-stripping and caulking to prevent the escape of heated or cooled air from your house of worship.
For more information, download the free Putting Energy into Stewardship guide at www.energystar.gov/congregations.