How to create interest in energy?

Energy management is not something that we do once and for all.  Instead, these activities are a series of repeated rituals.  But how do you keep members of property committees and the congregation interested in energy?  We have several suggestions:

Keep records.  You can’t play any game without keeping score.  Energy management is a series of repeated rituals listed here.  You can provoke yourself to renew your interest in them by comparing energy use day to day, month to month or year to year.

Read meters morning and evening.  By reading your electric, gas and water meters first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, you can determine how much electricity, water and fuel is used overnight.  High water use may be due to leaks.  High electric use may be due to outside lighting, refrigeration, lights in vending machines and other controllable loads.  High gas use may be due to warmer than necessary interior temperatures.  Your clock thermostat may not be saving you as much money as it could.

Install data loggers. iButtons from Dallas Semiconductor can record temperatures for up to a year inside your building.  Hobos from Onset Computers not only record temperatures, but light, relative humidity and amperage.  Data from these loggers can show you if you are using energy when the buildings are actually occupied.

Visit your building at 3am.  Early morning visits, when no one is supposed to be in your building, can reveal many interesting ways to reduce energy use.  Space temperatures may be unnecessarily warm, or lights may have been left on by mistake.   Sounds, sights and smells can tell you how to reduce overnight energy use.

Publicly display utility invoices.  Sometimes, members of the congregation think that worship and education spaces use about the same amount of electricity, fuel and water as their homes.  If you post your utility bills each month on a public bulletin board, you can stimulate interest in reducing costs.

Visit other religious buildings knowing their consumption.  If you know that a similar building uses less fuel and electricity than yours does, you can learn a lot by visiting with the people who operate it.  Such visits without utility data in hand, however, are not valuable.

Read energy management literature.  Corporations, government agencies, utilities, environmental groups and many other places have free or low-cost literature that can perk up interest in energy.

Go to expositions and conferences.  In the Philadelphia area, there are yearly expos and conferences specializing in commercial lighting, building maintenance and electric use.  There are home shows, too.  And occasionally, a national professional association holds their convention at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.  Last year, the American Institute of Architects did this, and the expo was free and very informative.  Check the Convention Center’s web site

Log onto web sites.  We have listed many energy websites in past newsletters.  Check them out.

Hire an energy consultant.  If you want help with the above, or just plan run out of energy to enliven your energy management programs, call ICE at 215-635-1122.  We can help get you going again.

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