Houses of worship can use a lot of energy, so this is a good place to start when you want to be a responsible steward of our environment (and also of your congregation’s money.)

Conserving energy + using energy efficiently = significant financial savings.

As Energy Star for Congregations says, congregations that commit to substantial energy savings can cut utility costs 25-30% and make significant contributions to a cleaner environment.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if each of the nation’s approximately 307,000 religious worship buildings cut its energy use and costs 25%:

  • More than 13,500,000,000 kWh of electricity would be available with no new power plants.
  • More than 5 million tons of CO2 emissions would be prevented.
  • AND, congregations would save nearly $500,000,000 to spend on other priorities.

The longer you wait to take action, the more money you’re losing! Taking energy conservation and efficiency measures NOW means saving energy and money year after year after year.

Learn from other congregations: Real-life examples

Here’s the story of how [intlink id=”99″ type=”post”]Jonesville UMC[/intlink] is preventing power plant pollution (and saving a significant amount of money) just from just one simple change! Jonesville UMC is one of three recipients of the Energy Star Congregation Award in 2007.

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary won one of the other three awards.

One thing NOT to be concerned about is …

… shivering in the dark. Steps taken to conserve energy and to use energy efficiently generally make buildings more comfortable and create a better worship and work environment – even while you’re saving money and conserving energy.

Consider how uncomfortable a drafty room is compared to a well-insulated room – and yet the well-insulated room will use less energy and will cost less to heat.

NYSERDA Energy conservation and efficiency programs

NYSERDA (New York State Research and Development Authority) has a variety of programs available to any congregation served by a utility that has a Systems Benefits Charge. This typically includes any utility other than municipal-owned utilities. Note: Any program that applies to Commercial customers applies to houses of worship.

Most congregations in New York State are eligible for a “Low Cost-No Cost” energy audit from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  [intlink id=”104″ type=”page”]Learn more…[/intlink]

Low interest loans

Through NYSERDA’s Loan Fund program, participating lenders will “buy down” loans to an attractive interest rate for energy improvements or for “green building” projects. For example, if you get a $10,000 loan at 9% for your energy efficiency project, NYSERDA can reduce this to 5%. (This percentage may change. Check NYSERDA for the latest figures.) Savings on interest payments can be just as substantial as the energy savings themselves.

Lighting

You can have the same or better lighting, but use less electricity … resulting less power plant pollution and fewer emissions that lead to global warming. Learn more about lighting.

Video: Easing the Pane—Make Storm Windows

Looking for a useful and cost-effective summer project for youth and/or adults? Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light produced the video in the link below.  They sent the link to other state Interfaith Power and Light organizations so we can help congregations make their houses of worship more energy efficient.  Project idea: making storm windows as a service to our congregations…or even other organizations that need to save energy? Watch the video.

Long Island congregations

Check out Long Island Power Authority’s Clean Energy Initiative Programs

  • LIPA Commercial Construction Program (CCP) offers technical assistance services and substantial financial incentives for commercial customers who choose energy-efficient equipment and systems.
  • LIPA’s Customer Driven Efficiency Program (CDE) provides free technical energy analyses and audits to assist customers in evaluating potential energy savings opportunities and, where opportunities are shown to be cost effective, financial incentives are made available. There are additional incentives available for Not-for-Profit customers.
  • LIPA Retrofit Energy and Capacity Program (RECAP) features a three-way partnership between the customer, LIPA and a list of LIPA-selected energy service companies (ESCOs). The ESCO will evaluate your facilities and make recommendations for upgrades and improvements that will help cut energy usage. The ESCO will then recommend new, energy-efficient equipment and submit a proposal for installing it. You can get bids from several ESCOs, as long as they are on LIPA’s list. LIPA, which must approve the project, will give the ESCO an incentive to help offset the cost.
  • LIPA’s Solar Pioneer Program offers the opportunity to supplement your energy needs with solar electricity, also known as photovoltaics or PV. Investing in solar electricity will enable you to not only generate clean electricity, but you could also reduce the amount of electricity purchased from LIPA and potentially sell power back to LIPA through net metering. Congregations get up to $4.75/watt – $1/watt more than residential customers. For additional information please visit their website or contact LIPA’s Energy Infoline at 1-800-692-2626.

Be recognized for your efforts

  • EPA: Apply for the annual Small Business and Congregations Award sponsored by the EPA.
  • Unitarian Universalist congregations can become certified as a Green Sanctuary.
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) – Become an Electric Steward Congregation. Electric Steward Congregations are congregations that have conducted an energy audit of their facilities and decided to put into action at least one of the new energy saving steps recommended by the audit.