Case Studies

Hilton Church                                             Estimated savings 18.52t CO2e and £5120 

Hilton Parish Church consists of a church and small hall constructed in the 1950s and larger hall constructed in the 1960s. The church seats about 230 and is full on a Sunday morning. It is also used for many activities during the week.

Light House Community Café Development

An energy audit was completed in 2008, with support from Community Energy Scotland. In 2009, the old manse adjacent to the church was transformed into ‘The Light House’: a community café with multi-function rooms. Solar hot water panels installed at this time help reduce the energy required to heat the hot water for the café by about 2500kWh a year. Low energy lighting was also installed. The Light House is now a thriving hub of the community in use six days a week and several evenings.

Energy Reports

The Church asked for the 2008 CES report to cover energy saving recommendations for the church and hall as well as there were plans for a subsequent Church development project. These were shelved as inappropriate in a time of austerity. The Church board has become increasingly concerned about rising utility costs in recent years and in mid-2011 Anne Thomas – Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth: Inverness & Ross who attends the church– organised a loan of an Owl energy monitor from the Keep The Heat In campaign and a site audit with the Energy Saving Trust. The EST report provided information on a range of measures that were all eligible for financing through the interest-free loan scheme, although it should be noted that the layout of the report made it difficult to compare the merits of individual measures.

Solar Photovoltaic (electric) panels and insulation for the Cafe

Independently, the Church was approached by Community Energy Scotland who highlighted a grant available from the Urban Buildings Fund that would be suitable for installing solar PV panels on the Light House Café. The Church would only need to find 10% of the capital cost, which could be paid back in about three years through electricity savings (the installation would not be eligible for Feed in Tariffs). Installers were also asked to provide estimates for solar panels for the large hall. Quotes were arranged for cavity wall and top up loft insulation which could also be eligible for the grant. Anne then presented installation costs and payback time to the Church board. They realised that the figures they had given to Energy Saving Trust were too low and actual energy costs were higher so this meant potential savings were greater. The board agreed to go ahead with the insulation and proceed with the smaller measures gradually. It was agreed at a subsequent meeting to proceed with the solar panels for the hall using an Energy Saving Trust loan that would be paid back by energy savings and government ‘Feed in Tariffs’ over eight years.

In early 2012, cavity wall insulation was fitted to the church and small hall and the original walls of the café by social enterprise company ILM Highland. The large hall had solid walls that were not suitable for cavity wall insulation. Loft insulation was topped up to the current 270mm recommendation throughout. Solar PV panels were installed on the café roof in March 2012 after an anxious wait for a building warrant. Installation of the 12.72kW PV array on the hall was next on the list but new regulations meant an energy performance certificate was needed in order to comply with new regulations coming in on 1st April.

The solar array on the Light House café will generate around 3,700kWh a year, saving around 2.6 tonnes of greenhouse gases a year. Once the 10% upfront cost is paid back, the panels will save about £26000 on electricity bills and electricity it exports over the next 25 years. Light House team are also much more aware of energy saving leading to further reductions in electricity and gas use.

New Doors

New energy efficient doors were installed to the Church as part of disabled access alterations paid for through another grant. These are also transparent and reduce the need to open them to appear welcoming. A much greater awareness of energy saving is apparent with the lights left off altogether for the morning service on a sunny morning.

The insulation measures installed and new doors should cut heating demand by around 45%, which is equivalent to £1625 a year and make annual savings of 6.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases with further savings to the Light House due to the cavity wall insulation. Other measures focused on electricity use which, should be cut by about 40% saving about £768 or 2.32 tonnes.

Solar Panels for the Hall

The next stage was installing solar PV panels onto the Hall roof. The roof is a shallow metal one which was built over an original flat roof. The shallow angle meant that although the larger sides were West or East facing they had a reasonable exposure to the sun. Leeds Solar returned and installed a 12.72kW system at the end of August 2012 in two parts on the South and West facing sides of the roof.

The next stage was installing solar PV panels onto the Hall roof. The roof is a shallow metal one which was built over an original flat roof. The shallow angle meant that although the larger sides were West or East facing they had a reasonable exposure to the sun. Leeds Solar returned and installed a 12.72kW system at the end of August 2012 in two parts on the South and West facing sides of the roof.

Difficulties to be overcome

Despite all their energy efficiency measures the Church found it difficult to meet the new requirement that buildings which want to claim Feed in Tariffs at the higher rate need to have an energy efficiency level of D. With a few extra measures such as LED lights (6W rather than 100W) and radiator panels their assessor eventually managed to make the software work. Without this they would have only received 7.5p per kWh generated rather than 13.5p.

There was a setback when they found that the Energy Saving Trust Small Business Loan they had been relying on for about 2/3 of the cost now charged 5% interest rather than being interest free. This was in order to meet EU regulations because the ‘Feed in Tariff’ is seen as ‘State Aid’. Their extra energy efficiency measures loan was still interest free. The board decided it was still worth going ahead. Then they were told they didn’t have a good enough credit history. This was because a credit search came up with hardly anything about them, so the accounts had to be audited manually and were then pronounced fine.

They were hoping to install the system just before the end of July when the Feed in Tariff level was reduced but with all the delays it was becoming very tight and then a local trade holiday meant there was no scaffolding available in Highland!

However the rates are still good and they were able to take advantage of a new device which diverts power to the immersion heater if there is a surplus before exporting it. Hot water heating was using a lot of energy so this will save even more money, probably about £200 worth a year (included in electricity savings mentioned earlier).     

Predicted output

The solar system is expected to generate 9480kWh a year, which with reduced energy use should mean the church is carbon neutral for electricity. Income from the electricity used on site, that exported at 4.5 p per kWh and the feed in tariffs which pay 13.5p for generation mean that the panels should pay for themselves in about 8 years. Since they had a grant from the Church of Scotland for a quarter of the amount and a donation the loan payments will on average be less than they make each month. After the loan is paid back in 8 years the congregation will continue to receive Feed in Tariff payments for 20 years and generate free power and receive export payments for as long as it lasts. With no moving parts solar PV is expected to have a long life. Early solar thermal systems are still going strong after 40 years. The panels should save about 7.5 tonnes of CO2 a year. The overall profit should be about £43,000 in 20 years.

Many churches will be in a similar position with escalating costs and would be able to reduce their carbon footprint and save money and could learn from this case study.


Malard Pub 
Energy Monitor Case Study   7% long term reduction in energy use

The Mallard Bar is a busy pub in Dingwall lying on the platform of the railway station. The Manageress, Leslie-Ann was keen to use our monitors to get to grips with electricity use on the premises. She borrowed an Efergy esocket monitor for measuring how much electricity individual appliances consume and an Owl monitor with extra sensors for seeing how much was going through the three-phase meter at the bar.
Why borrow an energy monitor?
 Identify where electricity is being used in your premises
 Raise awareness of your usage amongst employees
 Find out which of your appliances are energy-guzzlers

Individual appliance monitor
Leslie-Ann decided to measure usage with the Owl monitor for the first week of the loan to get a baseline of electricity use. For the second week, she encouraged staff to be careful with how they used energy and they all tried to work out which appliances were using the most electricity. The model of Owl energy monitor they borrowed had a USB connection that meant they could also download the data onto a computer.
More information about our energy monitor loan scheme and what The Mallard Bar discovered is available on our website:
The Mallard Bar found that electricity usage through the meter reduced by 13% in the second week and there was little difference in trade between the two weeks. Much of the drop in consumption was attributed to the improved awareness of how much energy various appliances used. For example, the extractor fans in the kitchen were found to use around 6kW of electricity, so they are now switched on only when food is being prepared. Staff were also encouraged to switch lights off in vacant rooms - lighting is a major cost for businesses so it is important to find energy-efficient replacements for incandescents and halogens. Consumption levelled off at around 7% lower than the first week when there was no concerted effort to reduce save electricity in later weeks, so The Mallard Bar expect their electricity usage will be permanently lower thanks to the information provided by the Owl monitor they borrowed. In fact, they have invested in their own Owl monitor so they can keep tracking consumption.

Week one  400 kWh
Week two   350 kWh
About 13%
Priorities for The Mallard Bar identified through the energy monitor loan scheme
 Upgrade inefficient lighting to low-energy dimmable compact fluorescent and LED lightbulbs
 Installing timers onto bar fridges
 More careful use of existing kitchen appliances
Leslie-Ann recommends the free loan scheme to other businesses:
“The monitors are easy to use and the display makes it clear exactly how much electricity is being consumed. I looked at the monitor a few times an hour throughout the day— it was surprising how much of a difference the small changes made. Assuming we keep up our 7% reduction, we estimate that we will save around £250 on our electricity bill over the next year.”
The esocket monitor was used to see how much energy the fridges behind the bar consume. Instead of the fridges being on 24 hours a day, they installed a timer to switch them off for five hours from closing to early morning. The drinks were cool again by opening time, but consumption was reduced by 9%.
Savings were about ~370 kWh in later weeks ~7%