Energy audits make cents

bill paulNIGEL TAPP

It may seem too easy, but a church can reduce its power bills by up to $40 a week simply by contacting their current provider and ensuring they are receiving the best possible tariff price.

And that is without taking any proactive steps to reduce consumption.

This was one of the lessons learnt in the Port Phillip Presbytery recently when seven congregations completed a four-week energy efficiency workshop with the Uniting to GREEN program.

The program is a key component of the Synod’s commitment to reduce energy use at church sites by 20 per cent by 2020.

Program volunteer Bill Paul led the teams through the training program before letting them loose in their own churches to investigate ways of reducing consumption as well as lowering their electricity and gas bill cost.

At a report-back gathering in September, the group found that simply ensuring congregations were getting the best possible deal on their power tariffs could lessen power bills. There were also significant savings in upgrading to more energy-efficient products. That included LED technology lighting, using heat pumps for hot water, installing split systems to provide space heating and using timers.

Mr Paul said the increasing competition in the Victorian electricity and gas markets meant unit prices were coming down. The savings are only possible if congregations actively seek out the best deal, which means contacting the current provider, particularly if they had not checked the available rates over the last few years.

“From these audits we saw savings of between $50 and $2000 a year could be achieved. The lower figures were caused by congregations already having ensured they were getting a good deal,” he said.

The situation is different in Tasmania where there is only one electricity retailer, but Mr Paul said undertaking an audit could uncover potential areas where savings are available.

Mr Paul hopes the success of the Port Phillip exercise will encourage other presbyteries to undertake the training so congregations can audit churches locally to ensure as many as possible are energy efficient.

The synod recently became a founding partner of the Victorian Government’s Take 2 program, which aims to encourage organisations and businesses to do their bit to keep global warming below two degrees.

The program, designed and delivered by Sustainability Victoria, will assist businesses, local government, communities, schools and individuals across the state to get involved and be part of Victoria’s pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.

Synod general secretary, Rev Dr Mark Lawrence said being a founding partner of the program fitted with the Synod’s 2011 pledge to reduce its energy usage by at least 20 per cent by 2020 as part of a commitment to respond to climate change and ensure energy justice globally.

“The synod’s participation in this initiative is an opportunity for us to work together to reduce our energy consumption and care for God’s creation which is what ultimately gives life to us all,” he said.

Any presbytery interested in undertaking training can contact Mr Paul at:
bill.paul@victas.uca.org.au

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