The diocese is helping churches access both expert energy efficiency advice tailored to their building and small grants towards implementing the advisors’ energy efficiency recommendations.

St. Peters ChurchEnergy efficiency can enable our churches to provide attractive places of sanctuary, fellowship and communion – with a comfortable level of warmth and illumination – at a lower cost to the planet, and sometimes with financial savings as well.

One of the significant barriers for churches, however, is knowing what positive actions they can undertake. So that PCCs can obtain and begin to act on expert advice in this area, the Diocese of Oxford, in conjunction with its programme partners, Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE) and Inspired Efficiency, is piloting a scheme whereby churches can apply to receive discounted energy audits and small grants towards implementing practical recommendations highlighted by the audits.

The energy audits, carried out by professionals with experience of historic places of worship, will look at a range of energy uses in the church building, from lighting to heating, and recommend the energy and carbon reduction measures available. These can include simple changes that will cost nothing – such as setting adjustments and changing practices – as well as options for renewable technologies, better controls, or changes in equipment. In addition to giving you a sense of what is possible, the professional reports will be helpful for fundraising.

Getting a Church Energy Audit Scheme carried out

Who is involved in the scheme? And what does it offer?

Building on the success of an earlier audit programme (see reports below), the Diocese has worked with Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment and Inspired Efficiency to develop a  pilot programme, which will run through June 2019.

For the pilot programme, Inspired Efficiency will provide a heavily discounted cost of £300 for audits for most churches (increasing to £600 for large churches or those with multiple buildings). Under the pilot scheme, churches receive a grant of £150 towards each audit, so that most PCCs will only pay £150. All churches that have an audit will then also be eligible to apply for a grant of up to £150 to implement the audit’s recommendations.

How many spaces are there? And how do we apply? 

The first stage of the pilot for this programme was funded by TOE: the spaces in this pilot have been filled. The second stage of the pilot will go from January 2019 to June 2019 and is funded by the Diocese.  We have approximately 40 places left for the January to June 2019 pilot. Applications are open, and all churches are welcome to apply, using a form which can be obtained from your archdeacon. We will acknowledge your application upon receipt and will let you know within two weeks whether your application has been approved to go to the next stage.

When will we have our audit? 

Churches are being audited in groups of three near to each other so that the energy surveyor doing the audits can visit several in a day, saving time, expense and fuel. We can, therefore, only schedule audits when we have applications from three churches that are close enough to allow the auditor to work efficiently. If your church can find others in your area who are also interested in having an audit, and these churches all submit applications, it will increase your chances of being scheduled early.

As soon as we have applications from three churches sufficiently near each other, we will get in touch with the contact people from all three to arrange a suitable time and date to undertake the energy audits.

What happens if we don’t get an audit in this pilot programme? 

If we cannot accommodate your interest during the pilot, either because spaces fill up or because we cannot find other churches near you that are interested, we will keep your application for later in the year, when there will be more spaces available in the audits carried out under the Common Vision programme.

What does the audit itself involve?

The application asks for some background information on the church (the more information that can be provided on that form, the more useful the energy audit is likely to be). Before the audit takes place, the church will be asked to gather 12 months’ worth of energy bills (electricity and gas or oil etc.). An energy surveyor will visit the church, which will take around 2 hours. The PCC will then need to provide someone (preferably with good knowledge of the church) to show the energy surveyor around the church at the time of the arranged appointment: they will need access to all areas including boiler rooms, towers and the like. Within around two weeks after the visit the church will receive a written energy audit report that will detail the recommendations, including likely costs and savings.

What will the process be for applying for grants to implement recommendations?

When you receive your audit report, you will also receive a very simple grant application form, which you can use to apply for up to £150 to fund implementation of the audit’s recommendations. This form will be sent to TOE and evaluated by the partners in the programme. Please apply before you undertake work, as the fund will not be available for work undertaken before approval has been granted. Payment will be on production of receipts for the work/materials involved. We aim to make this process as simple as possible – the aim is to support churches in taking the first steps along the road.

If you are looking to implement recommendations that would have higher costs, TOE will be able to provide advice on grant funding. There will also be advice on this contained in the audit report.

Where can I find more information or an application form? 

For more information, download the information brochure for the pilot – Energy Audit Basic Brochure or contact Maranda St John Nicolle (01235 851763).

For an application form, contact your archdeacon.

Church Energy Audit Grant Scheme with TOE2 and Sustain (2014)

In 2014, the Diocese worked with the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) and Sustain to provide grants to churches in Oxfordshire towards the cost of an energy audit (details). The energy audits below were produced under this programme.

St Clement’s Church, Oxford – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to 1828

St Frideswide’s Church, Oxford – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to 1872

St Mary’s Church Headington, Oxford – not listed, built in 1956

St Stephen’s, Clanfield – Grade II listed church building, dating back to 1209

St Mary’s, Upper Heyford – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to 1208

St Margaret of England, Little Faringdon  – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to 1872

St Britius, Brize Norton  – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to the 12th century

St Peter’s, Marsh Baldon  – Grade II listed church building, dating back to the 14th century

St Peter’s, Stoke Lyne  – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to the 12th century

St Mary’s, North Leigh  – Grade I listed church building, dating back to the 11th century

St Mary’s Adderbury  – Grade I listed church building, dating back to the 13th century

St Mary’s, Charlbury – Grade I listed church building, dating back to the 14th century

St Michael’s, Cumnor – Grade I listed church building, dating back to the 11th century

St Leonard’s, Eynsham – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to the 13th century

St Andrew’s, Cumnor – Not listed, church built in 1961

St Mary’s, Witney – Grade I listed church building, dating back to the 11th century

St Mary and St John, Cowely – Grade II listed church building, dating back to 1883

St Mary the Virgin Great Milton – Grade I listed church building, dating back to the 11th century

St Mary and St Nicholas, Littlemore, Oxford – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to 1836

St Mary and St Berin Berinsfield – Not listed, church built in 1960’s

St James, Little Milton – Grade II listed church building, dating back to 1844

St Matthew’s, Harwell – Grade II* listed church building, dating back to 1425

St John the Evangelist, Stoke Row – Grade II listed church building, dating back to 1848

St Lawrence, Warborough – Grade II* listed church building, dates back to early 13th century


External resources relating to energy audits and church efficiency

Oxford City Council:

  • Heritage Energy Efficiency Tool (HEET) – Oxford City Council, Low Carbon Oxford, Oxford Preservation Trust and Building Research Establishment (BRE) have developed the Oxford’s Heritage and Energy Efficiency Tool and have produced some local case studies.

Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust:

  • Churches for Communities by Becky Payne – This book subtitled Adapting Oxfordshire’s Churches for Wider Use includes innovative projects to help reorder historic church buildings in the Oxford Diocese – and includes many projects that included improving energy efficiency, and some that used renewable technologies.

Herefordshire Diocese: