This chart represents four different churches that were surveyed. It shows what proportion of their total annual cost for electricity was spent in each of three areas –
Base Building Costs (blue) A Variable Cost. The base building cost is the amount of electricity used to operate throughout the whole year, with no winter costs added (blue). For a church, which typically has relatively low hot water and kitchen electricity demands, most of this cost is for lighting.
Winter Costs (green) A Variable Cost. The winter costs are for heating and additional winter lighting.
The Variable Costs are the ones that relate directly to how much electricity you use. They are usually expressed in cents per kilowatt hour (cents / kWh) on the bill. It is the variable costs which can be lowered by reducing the amount of electricity you use.
Fixed Costs (white). The fixed costs (for line charges etc.) are what you pay for being connected to the grid no matter how much electricity you use. Notice that the smaller the church, the larger the proportion of the fixed costs.
When improving efficiency it is helpful to know the make-up of your church’s electricity bill over a year. Each church has a unique combination of building fabric, facilities and usage patterns which influence these proportions. This knowledge enables you to make more informed choices about where to invest to make savings.
The Sustainability Field Worker consulted the parishes after they had received their Sustainability Reports to assess the usefulness of the recommendations. Some highlights from the replies are as follows:
- Reducing running costs was the main reason for having a sustainability survey with Care of Creation and environmental concerns a close second.
- Most churches were surprised to find that lighting was such a high proportion of their costs. As this is an easy area to address with the latest Fluorescent and LED technologies, this was also the top area where actions have already been taken. Awareness of the cost advantages of switching provided the motivation and this can be found in the DIY Lighting Survey for Churches Introductory Notes.
- Carrying out alterations is the optimal time to include sustainable fixtures and fittings as shown by this feedback from St Peter’s Onehunga. The Sustainability Survey resulted in – “improved recycling of paper, plastics and aluminium, bokashi composting system introduced for food waste. Also inclusion of energy efficient options as part of the recent upgrade of our office and toilet areas eg. installation of LED lighting, dual flush toilets and a smaller more localised hot water cylinder. Ensuring consumables such as photocopy paper and toilet paper are from sustainable sources. Generally greater awareness by Vestry of practical ways in which we can continue to improve our sustainability status as a parish.”