How Much Energy Does The Average Church Use?

energy bolts from crucifix

Heating and providing electricity to large structures throughout the UK can often be quite expensive, especially in buildings such as churches. Churches can often be quite an expensive building to provide heat and electricity to because of their large size and open-plan interior. Within this article you will find many of the preocupations held by residents and how they are being addressed.

Listed statusA church with a listed status often qualifies for energy-saving measures, renewable energy tax credits and more. A listed status for a place of worship can often be one of the best ways that you can get some improved savings throughout the process of savings with a church.

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when weighing up the energy usage of a church, such as the number of functions held, the spacial characteristics of spaces used and the efficiency measures implemented by each church. With energy costs in the UK continuing to rise, this kind of study is becoming much more common for many building types, especially churches. Public concern has continued to grow as thousands of pounds are spent on churches to keep them heated.


Size and Usage of a Church

A reasonably sized church could be well in excess of 400 m². In an example we studied, a church that was approximately 416 m² in Oxford, the overall size audit of this church and representative floor space often had to be heated using electric heat and lit using very inefficient lighting sources.

Churches are often in use for far more than just one worship ceremony every week. Most churches often require a series of community associations, catering events, openings for weddings, openings for christenings and traditional worship services. With one service a week and church meetings, the average monthly usage could total into 16 hours. For community uses and regular choir practice this could add an additional 26 hours a month of electricity usage. Administration officers, as that's their full-time position, and any of the catering and events, can continue to add onto the total amount of time that the electricity needs to be on and the amount of time that the electricity is used too.

Energy Usage

Based on the total number of appliances and the spacial dimensions of each church, energy bills will certainly vary. In the church that we looked at, the total amount of kilowatt hours used on electricity was between 22,000 - 30,000 kWh, which is roughly 9-10 times higher than the average residential household. In terms of the price per kWh, in today's current energy climate, you're looking at around 11p per kWh, which would result in an electricity bill of around £2,860 on average, based on a usage of 26,000 kWh.

An average sized church will use between 22,000 - 30,000 kWh of electricity per year.

The Church of England and Green Energy

Church interior
3,500 churches in Britain have switched to renewable electricity.

In 2016, 2000 churches across the United Kingdom switched their alliances to renewable energy, totalling a huge 3,500. There are currently an estimated 50,700 Christian churches across the United Kingdom, so this is still a drop in the ocean, but definitely a step in the right direction. Many churches are also being installed with small renewable generation infrastructure, too, which would mean lower energy bills and much lower environmental impact.

With the majority of places of worship qualifying for 'listed status', the renewable credits and schemes available make it much easier for these kinds of establishments to fund these installations. It is unlikely that a system that generates 20,000 kWh of electricity can be installed into every church across the country in the near future, but each one ticked off is a huge step towards a greener church culture.


Energy Improvements for Churches

As churches are widely used spaces, they do experience some huge energy savings when just a few modifications are made. The issue with many of the churches throughout the UK is that they are extremely historical buildings and they often come with older fittings, older insulation and more that is not readily replaceable simply because it can be an expensive cost for the congregation and it can sometimes take away from the static inside the building. Here are some of the many successful methods that have been used by churches across the country:

Changing out lighting

The process of changing out lighting such as fluorescent bulbs and incandescent lamps to LED lighting can often lead to a massive cost savings. A number of places of worship are changing out there lighting solutions to make the process of lighting up the entire sanctuary much more energy-efficient. As lighting can be a fairly large cost in a church, with ceremonies, offices, practice spaces and reception halls all included in many of the largest churches in the UK, switching to LED lighting is an excellent choice. The latest LED fixtures often use up to 40% less power for an instant savings on any type of lighting. LED spot lights, fluorescent tube replacements and more are all available for retrofit. In most cases the fixtures don't look any different from some of the current lighting fixtures that you might have in an older church.

Heating system changes

Churches that rely on electric heat can often have massive inefficiency especially if they are using older electric heaters. The church that we studied had 12 wall-mounted heaters including fortnightly storage heaters and a series of plug-in electrical heaters. As electrical heat was required for heating the entire sanctuary, there were massive spots of inefficiencies throughout the area and this led to many of the electric heaters having to switch on and off regularly to heat their spaces.

Installing a gas central heating system

Even a ground source heat pumps through the flooring can help to improve the heating system and improved the cost of systems over time. Improving electrical heating in using more gas sources helped with making improvements for this church and deliver a consistent solution for heat throughout time.

Making improvements to the insulation

Don't forget the seals on doorways! That is another simple solution that can save on electricity in a church throughout the UK. Any doors that separate the space between two areas should be properly sealed and the insulation standards for the walls and upper areas of the church can also be improved to reduce energy costs over time.