Switch your church to green electricity

Energy can be the most significant spend for churches therefore good pricing is important as is good contract management to ensure tariffs remain competitive and parishes are not “rolled over” into uncompetitive contracts.

Switching supliers not only can savce you money it can also be complicated – so below we provide details of negotiated deals that make switching easy and include the best deals for churches on green renewable electricity suppliers.

The Diocese of Oxford schemes

The Diocese of Oxford has negotiated schemes with two of the UK’s leading green energy providers that make switching to green electricity easy and make donations to the Church of England’s Climate Justice Fund. Read more…


Parish Buying website schemes

The national Church of England has created the Parish Buying website to provide churches access to negotiated schemes with two of the UK’s leading green energy providers, as well as ‘brown’ energy providers.

Parish Buying have appointed the two leading national green energy suppliers, Good Energy and Ecotricity, to provide green electricity to churches. By purchasing green electricity through Parish Buying your church will be eligible for discounts off the standard tariffs.

Find out more and register for free at: www.parishbuying.org.uk/categories/energy.html

Note on rate of VAT

Irrespective of which company supplies your energy, as a church undertaking charitable activities, you should be eligible for exemption from the Climate Change Levy and also benefit from a reduced rate of VAT (currently 5%) . Do check your bills to ensure this is the case, and if not request a VAT declaration certificate from your energy supplier for you to complete and return to them.

* The Climate Justice Fund is the Church of England’s national environmental fund working in partnership with Tearfund. The Climate Justice Fund gives you and your church the opportunity to compensate for the size of your carbon footprint. The website also provides campaigning actions, and resources to help you pray and talk about this issue with others. www.climatejusticefund.org


Your Church and Heat Pumps

The Diocese of Oxford has published an information sheet to introduce how heat pumps could be used to heat your church. It will help you assess the suitability of your church and provides a list of things to consider as you develop a project to install heat pump technology and benefit from the government Renewable Heat Incentive.

Download the document or view it online:

Your church and Woodfuel (Biomass)

The Diocese of Oxford has published an information sheet to introduce how biomass could be used to heat churches.

It aims to help you assess the suitability of your church and provides a list of things to consider as you develop a project to install a biomass boiler and benefit from the government Renewable Heat Incentive.

Download the document or view it online:

Diocese of Oxford Environment Map

The Diocese of Oxford has created an online map showing many of the environment based projects and groups active in the Diocese – from eco church building projects to biodiversity in churchyards and local community groups focussed on environmental issues.

Click here to view map

Add your own project or group:

To add your project email the following details of the project to: environment@oxford.anglican.org or call 01865 208745.

Please include the following details:

  • a brief description of your project
  • name of your church and group
  • the address/postcode of your church
  • plus include a photo and website address where people can find out more

Your Church and Solar PV

Information to help churches exploring installing solar PV.

The Diocese of Oxford has produced an information sheet that introduces how solar energy could be used to generate electricity in your church, as well as help you assess the suitability of your church and provides a list of things to consider as you develop a project to install solar panels.

There is also advice about how your church may be able to benefit from the government Feed-In-Tariff. Read more and download the guide…

For Creed and Creation Book

For Creed and Creation: A simple guide to greening your church is a great new little book of practical suggestions for making your church more energy efficient.

With simple ideas and advice from the way the building is run, to how rubbish is recycled and the light switches used, the guide will help to reduce bills and put your church on the right track to tackling your carbon footprint. Published by the Diocese of Oxford and co-written by local curate, Revd. Dr. Gillian Straine, the book includes details of local organisations and where to go for help.
“…churches aren’t just places of wonder, encounter and community; they’re also real buildings which make an impact on the natural world, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that their carbon footprint is as small as possible. We have over 800 church buildings in our diocese, and with all the people who pass through them in a year, we can influence literally hundreds of thousands more buildings.”
Bishop of Oxford
Copies of the booklet are available for:
  • £2.50 each – £3.28 including postage and packaging
  • £10 for five copies – £11.33 including postage and packaging
  • £15 for ten copies – £18.41 including postage and packaging

Order by Post: Send a cheque for the total amount (including postage and packaging), made payable to ‘Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, to: For Creed and Creation Book, Environment Desk, Dept of Mission, Diocese of Oxford, North Hinksey, Oxford, OX2 0NB.

View online: You can view the contents of the book in the viewer below.

Greening your church building

As Christians it is our duty to care for the world with which we have been entrusted. It is now clear that our modern, energy-hungry lifestyles are changing the planet for the worse. If we do nothing, simply allowing carbon emissions to continue at current levels, by 2100 the average annual temperature will have risen between 1 and 5°C. There will be 50% less precipitation in the summer months, but 30% more in the winter months. Extreme weather events such as storms and floods will become more common and sea levels could rise by as much as 80cm. Drier summers will increase the risk of wildfires and drought. Stormier winters will increase the risk of wind and flood damage. We must act now to ward off these threats to God’s creation.

What can we do?

Some of the most effective ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your church are also the simplest. Conventional fossil fuel fired power stations emit around 9 000 000 tonnes of carbon each per year in order to satisfy our demand for electricity. Reducing that demand therefore lowers emissions, as well as saving you money. Make sure that your use of energy is as efficient as possible by following these simple steps:

  • Heating should be tailored to the nature of the groups using the building rather then set at default levels. Remember that an active group (such as a playgroup) will require less heat than a sedentary one (e.g. a Sunday congregation). Use timer and/or thermostatic controls to prevent overuse.
  • Lighting should only be used when it is needed – low tech printed “Switch off” signs by light switches right through to motion activated lighting can help you achieve this. New lighting and heating systems should be sectional, allowing parts of the building currently in use to be lit and heated whilst other areas are not. Where possible install energy saving light bulbs – these can reduce energy consumption by up to 80%.

Combating climate change is about minimising use of all the planet’s resources, not just fossil fuels:

  • Reduce water use by using spray fitting taps, dual flush WCs, and harvesting rainwater.
  • Make sure products used in the church are recyclable or long life
  • Where possible, carry out repairs to the church building in sustainable, environmentally friendly materials, and ensure that additions to the building are “green by design”.

Should we be generating our own power?

Clearly it is impossible to do away with the need for power entirely. It is therefore important that our sources of power are clean and sustainable – that they do not put any additional carbon into the atmosphere. In most cases it will not be possible for churches to generate their own power on site, whether due to the capital costs of such an installation or planning restrictions. For example, the installation costs of systems such as photovoltaic cells are significantly higher than for other renewable energies, with standard installations costing around £15 000. The installation of such cells on historic churches can be detrimental both to the appearance and fabric of the building, and it is important to note that this technology is not carbon neutral due to the amount of energy required to make the cells. For churches that cannot meet such capital costs or that do not have a site suitable for microgeneration, switching to a green energy provider is the best way to ensure that the energy you are using is not harming the planet. For churches that can afford the initial cost or need to replace their current heating systems in the near future, systems such as ground source heat pumps and particularly biomass may be worth investigating as they are particularly well suited to the energy demands of church buildings.

There is no “one size fits all” solution for the provision of sustainable energy. The best solutions are tailored to the specific needs and resources of your church.

Further information

For further information and guidance on climate change and your church building in the Diocese of Oxford, contact natalie.merry@oxford.anglican.org or see the following websites:

The Centre for Alternative Technology (www.cat.org.uk) has fact sheets on all the major types of micro-generation, has an online shop selling the parts required, and can offer consultation on individual projects.

The Energy Saving Trust (www.est.org.uk) has information on the different types of renewable energy, as well as on how to use energy more efficiently, and on funding/grants for micro-generation equipment

The Church of England’s Shrinking the Footprint initiative (www.shrinkingthefootprint.cofe.anglican.org) has advice on how to measure the carbon footprint of your church, and how to reduce it.

Eco-congregation (www.ecocongregation.org) has a wealth of practical information on the green management of your church, and on introducing green issues into worship.

Remember that all alterations to the church building that are not covered by de minimis will require the permission of the Chancellor through the usual faculty process. You should contact the office of the DAC Secretary for advice on such alterations.

Natalie Merry is the Secretary to the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the care of churches in the Diocese of Oxford.