Energy Costs: Take Control and Save Money Year Round
News of higher energy costs have ministries looking for budget-stretching tips. Here’s something to consider: If you maintain your sanctuary at a comfortable 70 degrees, you’re losing money. The problem is that the temperature is the same on Sunday morning as it is at 2 a.m. on a Thursday. Manually adjusting the temperature can have unintended consequences, too. You may save money on heating bills but frozen or burst water pipes can disrupt your ministry and cost thousands to repair. Where’s the balance?
Save Money with WiFi Thermostats
Conventional and programmable thermostats rely on an individual to make continuous temperature adjustments. Often, however, the thermostats are set once and then forgotten. Controlling the temperature of your facilities helps control costs. It also can have a dramatic impact on the longevity of your HVAC equipment.
“Many times, we will audit a ministry facility and find thermostats set at a constant 65 degrees during summer months,” said Tim Cool, founder of Smart Church Solutions. “Not only does this cost money, it can also shorten the life expectancy of HVAC equipment.”
One option to take control of your heating and cooling costs is to implement a computerized energy management system. These systems allow ministries to control individual HVAC units from a centralized location. However, a management system can be costly to install, about $1-2 per square foot. They also require training, may come with long-term contracts, and can be difficult to repair.
A simpler, but equally effective, alternative is to use WIFI-enabled thermostats. WIFI thermostats allow a ministry to set schedules, temperatures, zones, and more from a centralized web-based application at significantly less cost than a computerized energy management system.
“Every degree that we adjust on our thermostat reduces the HVAC portion of our utility bill by 1.5 percent,” said Cool. Reducing a heating temperature or increasing a cooling temperature, based on the season, can save 5-10 percent on your energy costs. WiFi-enabled thermostats can help your ministry’s HVAC system run more efficiently so you can redirect energy costs to ministry needs.
Take Control of Your HVAC Energy Costs
Once you have WiFi thermostats installed, you’re ready to start taking control of how you heat and cool your building. When scheduling various events at your ministry, consider how you can reserve rooms to use the fewest number of HVAC units. For example, if you have a Bible study, childcare, and a volunteer training session all on a Tuesday evening, schedule those activities in rooms that use the same HVAC unit. This eliminates the need to run multiple units simultaneously.
How do you know if you’re spending more than necessary? When managed well, a typical ministry can expect to see energy costs of $1.50 per square foot or less. For more information about HVAC efficiency, download ‘HVAC Solutions’ by Smart Church Solutions.
In addition, here are a few tips from ENERGY STAR*:
Change HVAC filters at least once a quarter. During high-usage periods, you may need to replace filters each month.
Clean heating and cooling coils. You may need to do this annually.
Clear any clutter around fan coil units and baseboards to ensure proper air circulation.
Repair leaks to ductwork.
Calibrate thermostats to make sure their ambient air temperature readings are correct.
Tune-up the HVAC system with annual maintenance completed by a professional.
Properly maintaining your HVAC units can extend their life. And when a unit does need to be replaced, your ministry will have a financial head start from the money you saved on your monthly energy bills.
The information provided in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.
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