Located in Oxnard, CA
Cash Savings: $2,600 annually
Energy Savings: 10,400 kWh per year
350,000 gallons of water per year
Prevented 13,000 pounds of CO2 per year of pollution
North Oxnard United Methodist Church (NOUMC) is a small but active congregation located in a coastal area of California noted for cool summer breezes and mild winters. The church provides various ministries including a full-time preschool, United Methodist Women, a youth group, and a Bible study. NOUMC also offers use of its facilities to a local Orthodox Presbyterian congregation. These facilities consist of a multi-use building built in the 1960s that houses a sanctuary, a fellowship area, a kitchen, classrooms, an office, and storage areas.
While seeking a solution to ongoing financial concerns, one member recognized an opportunity to both save money and help the environment by finding out about implementing energy-efficiency strategies. The idea grew from making several minor changes into performing a detailed energy audit that identified the most cost-effective options for upgrading and repairing facilities. (An energy audit is a fundamental tool in any energy-efficiency plan.) In NOUMC’s case, the audit revealed opportunities to improve lighting, heating, and plumbing systems. It served as a guide to implementing energy-efficiency and conservation measures in order of effectiveness as funds became available. In addition, the audit allowed the congregation to skip projects not justified by the benefits.
It’s sometimes very hard to find the money for an energy upgrade—even when you know it is the right thing to do—if there are other pressing needs. NOUMC overcame the problem initially by relying on targeted donations to fund enough of the work to convince decision makers of the benefits. Some of the savings from the early projects went to fund additional upgrades, thus yielding even greater environmental and economic benefits. This approach virtually eliminated any short-term impact on the congregation’s budget. Savings were almost immediate.
NOUMC has been implementing beneficial energy-efficiency upgrades since September 1997 and plans to continue.
Due to the mild climate, lighting enhancements became the major focus of the energy-efficiency strategy. Replacing inefficient incandescent lights with new fluorescent technologies is one of the best ways to move out of the costly and polluting darkness and into the low-cost and sustainable light! NOUMC began its lighting initiative by replacing 18 90-watt incandescent reflector-type lamps with 18 22-watt compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). When light output was reduced, the congregation slightly modified the fixtures to improve light distribution and enhance visual comfort.
The lighting upgrade also involved replacing various other incandescent lights with extremely efficient modular CFLs, plus an important conservation project that replaced 30 40-watt T-12 tubes with similar 25-watt fluorescent tubes. In addition to saving money, this approach also reduced the time spent replacing burned-out incandescent bulbs.
Water conservation not only protects one of our nation’s most precious resources, it also has a surprisingly beneficial impact on energy conservation. Using less water means less water pumped and less water heated, ultimately leading to less electricity purchased from inefficient power plants!
NOUMC set out to fix leaky faucets, replace a leaky old 7-gallon-per-flush toilet with a new, efficient 1.6-gallon-per-flush unit, and closely monitor leaks.
In many cases, cranky old refrigerators are massive consumers of electricity. In many religious facilities, old refrigerators often become more like valued old friends than appliances. Their leaky old seals, inefficient compressors, and poor insulation do run up electricity and maintenance bills. You know you should let go, but you just can’t say goodbye. However, NOUMC did manage to replace two old inefficient refrigerators with much newer and more efficient models.
NOUMC’s ongoing water and energy-efficiency program has provided positive recognition for the congregation within the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, which has allowed NOUMC to take a leadership role in encouraging other churches to do utility audits and upgrades.
In addition, the savings from the program have allowed the congregation to move forward with important new nurturing, outreach, and witness programs.
NOUMC already saves $2,600 annually on energy bills.
North Oxnard United Methodist Church
Vern Novstrup, member
1801 Joliet Place
Oxnard, CA 93030
“Not moving ahead on energy conservation programs because you can’t afford it is a bit like refusing to swim because you are drowning.”
— Vern Novstrup
North Oxnard United Methodist Church