The cost of living crisis is affecting all of us, and rising energy bills are a significant challenge facing churches. Bringing down energy consumption and energy costs is a key priority for churches as well as individuals over the next few months, and also has a significant role to play in our response to the climate and ecological crisis. One way that the Diocese can support parishes in efforts to manage energy use is through our subsidised energy audit programme.
Why energy audits?
Energy efficiency and, where appropriate, the use of new technologies can enable our churches to provide attractive places of sanctuary, fellowship and communion at a lower cost to the planet, and sometimes with financial savings as well.
But when you’re dealing with a church building, it can be hard to know exactly which positive actions you can undertake.
To help PCCs obtain the expert advice they need, the Diocese of Oxford has established a subsidised energy audit programme. Churches that participate will receive guidance from the national church and/or expert advice given in a site visit or telephone/video consultation. Contact Alison from the Environment team if you would like to see an example audit report.
How does the audit programme work?
Make an enquiry and receive the type of advice most useful for your church
Fill in this simple enquiry form. It will ask you for some basic information so that we can get a sense of your church's activities and needs. How big is your church? How often is it used? What kind of heating system do you currently have? Roughly how much do you spend on energy?
The questions aren't difficult or detailed - and if you can't answer all of them, that's all right, too. We're just trying to get a sense of where you are.
Once we have your form, we'll look at your particular needs. Basically churches will fall into three groups:
Some churches can take simple, inexpensive steps to help save carbon and, potentially, money - without having to make any major structural changes. If your form shows you fall into this category, we'll send information about simple steps to net zero - and follow up with a call to see if you have any questions.
On-site energy audit
Some churches will have a number of areas where specialist advice would be helpful. You'll be offered an appointment with an energy auditor, who will come to visit your church.
They'll look at how you're using energy and where you might make savings. You'll have a chance to chat with them about your needs - and they'll provide a full report with recommendations and a 'pathway to net zero' that's just for your church.
For some churches, it won't be as clear what would be most helpful. So we'll give you a ring at your convenience and talk through your needs with you. You may then be offered general advice, an on-site energy audit, or a telephone or video consultation with an auditor, who can answer specific questions you might have.
The dicoese is pursuing what's often referred to as a 'fabric first' approach. This means implementing measures to improve efficiency, before we invest in or recommend new technologies. We anticipate that as these technologies are tested and become more financially viable, we will be able to support churches to implement them. The energy audits will include recommendations for both energy efficiency measures and new technologies as part of a 'pathway to net zero'.
What will this cost?
The diocese is subsidising the audit programme because we want every church to be able to get the advice they need. In addition, to help you implement the auditors' recommendations, grants are available from the diocese that will cover the amount paid for the audit, aiming to make the whole process cost neutral to you.
General guidance is provided free of charge by the diocese, drawing on resources provided by the national church and other sources.
For on-site audits in 2022, your church pays £150 and the diocese pays the rest of the cost. You can also receive an implementation grant of up to £300.
For telephone or video consultations in 2022, your church pays £60 and the diocese pays the rest of the cost. You can also receive an implementation grant of up to £120.
Will there be support for the next steps?
Yes. The diocese is committed to helping churches act on the advice they receive.
- We have launched a new downloadable guidance document, 'From Audit to Action'
- We're available now to talk with you about next steps, and are setting up networks for churches of similar size and usage to talk about what they are doing. To find out more, email us.
- Check out our EcoHub, with general guidance for churches to save energy and take further steps to care for creation.
- Churches that have had specialist advice are also eligible to receive an implementation grant, equivalent to or more than their contribution towards the audit, to help them implement the auditors' recommendations.
- Our Diocesan Advisory Committee is on hand to offer support, advice and guidance for churches seeking to implement larger changes, and may need to go through the faculty system. A quick conversation up front can often save time later!
If you have questions or would like to find our more, email email@example.com.