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Church Energy and utilities

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The Church Energy Market

If you, or a committee you sit on, is responsible for any aspect of your churches utilities, you will appreciate just how church energy bills can spiral. Utility Bidder works with numerous churches across the UK to help them switch their energy suppliers to find the cheapest church electricity and gas deals, as well as providing useful advice on saving energy.

Across the whole of the UK there are 50,700 Christian churches* and each one is having to find innovative ways to combat the seemingly endless rise in business energy prices. Unfortunately, at the same time as church energy prices go up, many churches are having to deal with shrinking budgets – but there are ways that any church community can become energy efficient and, of course save money on their bills. *Source: UK Church Statistics, 2005-2015 (Tonbridge: ADBC Publishers, 2011)

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Of course, church energy usage is not just determined by size but how busy a church is. As well as traditional services of worship, the church may also be used for weddings, funerals, Christenings, meetings, choir practice, toddlers’ groups, support groups and much more. Each time the church is used for any purpose heating and lighting will be a consideration. It is estimated that the average annual church electricity bill alone is around £1,000.

  • 77% in 2009
  • 44% in 2017

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Church of England example

An energy audit carried out by the Church of England in 2013 found that total energy costs for the Church was around £124 million. The Church of England estate includes over 15,500 churches and 42 cathedrals and in the audit of 430 buildings just over half were churches. (Other buildings included schools and community centres, etc).

  • £124,000,000 Church of England total energy costs
  • 600m2 carbon footprint per church
  • 22% average savings
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Utility Bidder is part of your team

Regardless of how often and when your committee membership changes, Utility Bidder will have an accurate record of your expenditure, energy usage and most importantly, start preparing the ground for when your existing church energy supplier contract is due to come to an end.

When that happens, we will alert the church and start the switching process again meaning the church won’t simply roll over on their energy contract and miss out on the best church energy prices.

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Frequently Asked Questions

While the UK’s beautiful old churches and historic building are a source of great pride, they are notoriously difficult to heat. Nobody wants to spend any length of time in a freezing cold church and every church wants its congregation and visitors to be comfortable. However, getting the right level of comfort is no easy task and one has to consider the windows, doors ventilation and fabric type. Sometimes, the problem is exacerbated when a building urgently needs repair, but the funds are simply not there to fix the leaking roof or replace a boiler.

Replace standard lights with energy saving LED versions. Lighting could be taking up anything between XXX of your church energy expenditure thank to the various ceremonies that take place. While the low energy light bulbs cost more to buy in the first instance, they have a considerably longer life and so over their life time will save your church money – the latest use around 40% less power.

And replacing light bulbs in churches can sometimes be quite a risky business – many of the church light fittings are in awkward to reach places – and so you will glad not to have to spend too much time up ladders in potentially dangerous places!

Better still, the energy saving light bulb has now developed quite a bit since they were first introduced and you can now buy them to suit a standard bayonet and screw fitting of various sizes and shapes. Most churches won’t even notice the difference. If you are not sure which wattage you need with the new bulbs, as a general rule you divide your current old style bulb by 5 – and always go up in wattage – never go down.

Invest in movement activated sensor lights in areas such as cloakroom, toilets, store room and so on. Your church will become more energy efficient if you use lights that only come on when somebody enters a room and then switch off a few seconds after they have left.

It’s lovely to have church of special historical interest – but these are often the ones that are difficult to heat. If your church is a listed building then you will qualify for numerous benefits such as renewable energy tax credits and grants. According to the National Churches Trust around 20,000 churches are listed in England and if you want to install a modern heating system for example, you will need to speak to English Heritage as soon as you can.

Every church has to be considered on its merits but as a general rule the best form of heating in a church will be central heating, rather than electric heating – simply because the latter is a very expensive form of heat. If you can install any form of gas central heating then do so as the initial costs will soon pay for themselves in energy and money saved. Utility Bidder works with all the major church gas suppliers as well as smaller ones that your church may not have heard of. Compare your churches commercial gas prices here.

We know that your congregation and supporters love their church and so why not make energy saving a collective responsibility? Once you have switched your church energy supplier you can still save even more money by developing a sound energy management plan.

Who is responsible for the energy in your church?

Do they have access to past bills and are they aware of how much energy is consumed?

When are your churches busy times and when are the down times? What happen to energy usage during the down times – are lights switched off, is the thermostat turned down, are appliances unplugged?

Compare your churches business electricity prices here

A church can now change its water supplier just like they can their gas and electricity suppliers and Utility Bidder will once again do all the hard work for you thanks to our market insights. If we believe there are savings to be made for your church on its water bills, then we will make it our mission to find them and pass them on. Our own research suggests one in three businesses are being overcharged – and if this applies to your church, the good news is that you can claim back five years’ worth of overcharges.

Our water audit will check all of this for you. All you need to do is provide us with a current bill and our water experts will find out if there are any rebates we can gain for your church as well as look at potential money to be saved in the future from any of the 25 water suppliers across the UK.

We all know just how draughty and ill-fitting church doors can be and so to keep warm air in and cold air out could be as simple as improving the door’s seals. If that is not possible – a beautiful curtain will simply add to the atmosphere of the church while serving a highly practical purpose.

If you don’t already have a timed thermostat – invest in one so that you can ensure your heating come on and goes off a time you want.

If you have a thermostat – use it! These days there is software to allow you to turn your temperature up and down remotely and so you could turn the heating on and off in your church from anywhere.

One study on the subject suggests a church should maintain a steady 12°C minimum temperature for most of the day and then reduce the temperature to a minimum 8°C control when the church is empty. This could save could save a typical church more than £4,500 a year on heating.

One of the easiest ways you can save money on your church energy usage is by changing supplier of your church utilities. We appreciate that the idea of having to go through all that hard work of finding a cheaper supply for your church gas and electricity can be daunting for most people – but the great thing is, Utility Bidder can do all the hard work for your church.

All you need to do is give us some of your old bills, sign a letter of authorization (LOA) and then you just relax. Our energy experts will go through your church energy usage history to find exactly what you are using and how much it is costing. A dedicated account manager will then liaise with the relevant contacts to find the supplier that can offer your church the best price for your energy.

Utility Bidder will secure the best commercial energy deal for your church to find you deals that are simply not available on online search engines. Once we find the right supplier for you, as soon as your current church gas and electricity contract is up – you switch to your new church energy supplier. That’s it. No hassle, no headache.

A typical electricity meter will only record your consumption – but a smart meter will record consumption and when it is used. If allows you to see peaks and troughs in your church electricity usage and so should theoretically help you to cut back at times of high usage.

The data accumulated by a smart meter will also help Utility Bidder as we can ensure we find electricity suppliers for your church that don’t charge too much at standard peak times and that it takes advantage of the cheapest rates.

While every church is different, Utility Bidder is confident that we will find you a better church energy deal than you are currently getting and most of our church customers save between 10 – 25% on their bills. That could mean savings of hundreds if not thousands of pounds a year – money that could be spent on your church.

The majority of churches with an income of £100,000 or less are classed as charities which means, subject to the business activities of the church, you may only need to pay a reduced VAT tariff of 5% on your energy bills and not the standard VAT rate of 20%. If your church has been paying a higher VAT rate, we can help you claim back your over payments – again this could amount to quite a significant amount of money.

When is your current energy contract coming to an end? You need to inform Utility Bidder as soon as possible so we can secure a more efficient church utility contract and save your church money on its utility bills.

Here at Utility Bidder we know that many churches have a committee that is responsible for the supply and payment of energy. As the membership of committees change over time, you won’t need to worry about asking a new volunteer or member to get up to speed on energy as Utility Bidder will be the constant. Many churches of all denominations are looking to ‘going green’ in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and care for the earth as well as local communities. This is a great idea and will ensure that everyone is working to secure the future of the world for future generations. There are many ways a church can become more sustainable from spending considerable capital to buy solar panels for example or to consider simpler inexpensive initiatives.

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