10 tips to help your church go green

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

The best way for your church to lead your members in a growing consciousness of being good stewards of earth resources is to lead by example.

Many of these steps may require some up-front expense to realize long-term gains, but we encourage you to inform your congregation of your creation care efforts. You may find special donations that will help you move through these ideas quickly.

1. Keep many of your meetings virtual — It will be great when we all feel safe to come together for worship in person, but we’ve learned from the pandemic that many meetings work well when they are conducted virtually. Just in the U.S., imagine the impact of 33,000 United Methodist churches continuing to meet virtually – with no one having to start and drive a car and no heating or cooling or lights having to be turned on in churches, coffee pots started, or cookies purchased.

2. Organize car-pools and ride sharing to build relationships and lower CO2 emissions — Helping to organize and encourage church attenders to be carpoolers and ride sharers can make members feel more comfortable about building relationships with neighbors in the community who don’t attend church.

3. Do an efficiency study on church appliances — Unplugging a full-sized refrigerator (until an event requires it) and running a smaller unit is more cost-effective and better for the environment, and it can lower the church’s energy bills.

4. Have heating and cooling units serviced regularly for top efficiency — Often, your local HVAC providers offer reasonable service plans to do annual checks of your heating and air conditioning equipment.

5. Make the move to LED light bulbs — The average LED bulb with equivalent light output of a sixty-watt incandescent bulb uses eighty percent less electricity. These bulbs also produce less heat, which will help offset summer cooling costs. Fluorescent fixture tube bulbs can also be replaced with LED equivalents, which will improve energy efficiency even more.

6. Be an off-peak energy consumer — Most churches have their peak energy use at times that are non-peak for utility companies – on weekends, especially Sunday. This is helpful to the environment in that high-demand times mean more fuel consumed and more carbon released into the air.

7. Purchase programmable, smart thermostats — If your church is still working with the thermostats that were installed ten or twenty or more years ago when your building’s heating and cooling units were installed, newer smarter programmable units are almost a guaranteed savings.

8. Consider replacing a traditional water heater with tankless, on-demand unit Water heaters are not very economical but a new generation of tankless, on-demand water heating units can be mounted in-line under sinks and will heat water only when needed.

9. Give careful thought to adding solar panels to your church energy plan — Before you invest in a solar energy installation, do your due diligence. Check with the conference treasurer or trustees to find out the experience of other churches in your area and their appraisal of the vendors they used. Do your research.

10. Lead your congregation in the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Reduce: Limit the amount of waste your congregation produces; Reuse: Use certain items more than once before discarding; Recycle: Sort and discard items according to their properties (paper, glass, compost, etc.) Be sure waste cans and recycling bins are properly labeled and place them in as many areas of your building as possible.

— excerpt from a story by Ken Sloan, Director Stewardship & Generosity, Discipleship Ministries, Nashville, TN

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