Use the ‘Energy Hierarchy’ as your framework
First, reduce your demand. Change your light bulbs to LED lights that use less energy and encourage your hall users to switch off lights when they are not in use. Close doors and windows if the heating is on and close curtains at dusk to prevent heat loss. Be sure that you understand your heating controls and use timers effectively. Make sure that you provide clear instructions and signage for your hall users. These changes could save you between 10% and 15% on your energy bills.
Next, you want to think about increasing efficiency. Draughtproof your community building by covering gaps or holes underneath doorways or around windows with simple and inexpensive draught proofing tape. If possible, add insulation into your roof space and see whether your building could benefit from wall insulation or double glazing. It’s estimated that insulation can save between 5% to 25% of space heating costs.
Your final step could be to generate energy through a renewable technology. However, this step is only worthwhile if you have completed the first steps of reducing demand and improving efficiency. You can find out about all the available technologies and whether your community building would be suitable here. We also recommend using MCS certified tradespeople to undertake any installation.
Enjoy the co-benefits of increasing your energy efficiency
Making changes to increase energy efficiency often has other ‘knock on’ positive effects for your community. For example, Millom Baptist Church in Cumbria received a grant for £4,000 from Thrive Renewables to install loft insulation and new windows. From these changes they calculated that they would save 1.6 tonnes of Co2 per year, reducing their carbon footprint, saving money on their energy bills and becoming an example of sustainable changes within their community.
As well as saving carbon, Millom Baptist Church created a comfortable, warm space where people can now gather for community activities. The church building also provides a collection and distribution point for local food banks and for Fair Trade goods, meaning less people need to drive to bigger towns for food items. The town’s high unemployment rate means that these activities in the church building are very important for helping social cohesion in the area. With the ‘knock on’ effect of their energy efficiency changes, Millom Baptist Church had more positive impacts for their community.
Showcase your work
However small the changes you have made, showcase your efforts and be proud of them! This, in turn, can inspire local residents to make similar changes in their own homes. You could explain how the changes will reduce your bills and save energy in your local newsletters, parish magazines or via social media. An open evening could be held to show your community the changes you have made, combined with a talk about other environmental initiatives in your local area. You can find more tips on running community events and how to successfully engage with your community here.
Further reading and support
Here are some other useful tools to help you get started and support you on your sustainability journey:
If you would like to discuss any of the ideas in this blog, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org