As many churches have discovered, reducing energy use is an act of stewardship both of God’s good Creation and of financial resources. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that even modest projects like installing programmable thermostats, CFLs and weather-stripping can reduce congregational energy costs by up to 30%. Imagine saving monies for growing God’s mission while responding to the worldwide environmental crisis!
“Turn off the lights, for God’s sake informational campaign encourages the churches in New England to reduce energy consumption, save money, and praise God.
On this page you can:
- Share success stories or ask questions and participate in online forums;
- Register, through a single question poll, your congregation’s intention to begin or expand this ministry;
- Print a Turn off the lights, for God’s sake poster;
- Find resources for eco-justice organizations;
- Connect to websites for state and local rebates and funding opportunities for energy audits; and
- Download a sample press release.
Your church should have received The Episcopal Church’s guide for congregational energy stewardship, a Getting Started checklist, and Turn off the lights, for God’s sake stickers for light switches and other spots.
As your congregation considers the extent of engagement in this ministry, please know that every effort, whether large scale or more modest, expresses gratitude for God’s blessings and our commitment to be faithful stewards of this wonderful bounty. Yes, even something as simple as turning off a light can be a faithful act! Please join in this effort to be good stewards of all of God’s gifts. For further information or comments, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, Province 1 Energy Stewardship Minister.
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04/03/2012 - 11:40am
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Practical energy audit tips
Taking a hard look at the “belly of the beast”: A Maine church learns ways to improve its energy efficiency
by the Rev. Martha Kirkpatrick
The day before the energy audit training I met AJ Ballard at Christ Church in Gardiner so we could do a walk-through (or rather, he could do a walk-through and I could tag along). After we’d had a cup of coffee - graciously prepared for us by Dale Morgan - and laid out the agenda for the following afternoon, we started our walk around the church.
AJ planned to take pictures and incorporate them into the presentation so that Christ Church itself would provide an example of what an energy audit of a church looks like, and where to look for energy savings. We would begin, AJ said, in “the belly of the beast” – the boiler room. We went around to the outside to the bulkhead door secured by a padlock which Dale unlocked for us. Christ Church was built in the 1900’s. The cellar, like many in Maine, had a dirt floor partially cut out of granite, and was very hilly, with several columns that supported the sanctuary above. The first thing we noticed is that it was dry, even the sump pump hole, which was something given all the rain we’d had.
The first thing that AJ did was locate the furnaces and identify which sources supplied heat to different parts of the building. He discovered two large, fairly modern oil furnaces that supply the sanctuary with forced hot air heat with reasonable efficiency. He located another furnace that was running between 175 and 200 degrees, apparently used to heat the parish hall in the winter, that was now running to heat hot water, and burning about 5 gallons an hour. There was also a new-looking electric hot water heater that didn’t appear to be hooked up. This was one of the first opportunities he identified for energy savings. He also noted the uninsulated sills, which is very common in old buildings and can be remedied relatively easily and cheaply.
After that we walked around the outside of the building, noting windows and doors. The larger doors appeared to be in the process of being rebuilt with added weather –stripping. AJ talked about what can be done with large, single-pane stained glass windows to provide necessary insulation while preserving their beauty and without trapping dangerous moisture.
Next we moved inside, where AJ looked at kitchen appliances, lighting and lightbulbs, whether there were motion-sensitive lights in the bathroom and programmable thermostats in the rooms, all of which are fairly low-cost fixes that help conserve energy. He checked out the space between the sanctuary ceiling and the roof, which is uninsulated and talked about a new type of ceiling fan that is very efficient for high-ceilinged spaces and forces hot air back down to the floor level much more effectively than the traditional paddle fans.
The kinds of things we saw at Christ Church were probably typical of many churches around the state; a number of things had been done to improve efficiency, and there remained a number of low-cost opportunities for improvement. It was hugely informative and helpful. We appreciate their willingness to be guinea pigs so that we could all be wiser about how to be more effective at energy and cost savings in our church facilities.