Cutting energy costs in a community business

October 10th, 2013 by

A project to assist a community business to make major cuts in their rising energy expenditure in a modern purpose made building, through a combination of behavioural and technical changes.


Totnes Boat Association


June – October 2013

What is this project about?

Totnes Boating Association is a community organization. After an extensive fund raising programme it moved into a new purpose built club-house in 2009. Despite being a new building completed to building regulations the management team were aware that their energy bills were high, and rising and wanted to find ways of cutting energy consumption without compromising the use of the building by their members and other organizations.

Cutting energy costs in a community business

How we approached this

We started by gathering as much information as was available about the building, usage patterns and the energy consumption, costs and tariffs and particular problems and issues experienced by users.

We did this by:

  • Conducting a detailed walk-round audit of the building.
  • Talking to the individuals with responsibility for the building and paying the bills.
  • Checking bills for the previous 12 month period.

This highlighted several issues:

  • Energy consumption (and associated costs) was very high for a modern building with intermittent usage.
  • There was a problem with overheating in an enclosed area a bar.
  • There had been a significant jump in both the unit cost and standing charge for gas and electricity over the previous 12 months.


  • In this instance the biggest savings will come from zero cost behavioural changes particularly from setting heating patterns to correspond with the intermittent usage of the building. These simple changes should enable the organization to cut energy consumption by at least 25%.
  • Though the organization was aware that the energy costs were high it was difficult to know if these were typical of a building of this age and type; in fact they were about one and half to twice as high as would be expected.
  • There are a number of low to medium cost technical changes which can be made over time and will lead to greater savings. In the period since the building was opened new developments in LED lighting mean that there is further potential for cutting electricity consumption. It should be possible to cut consumption by a further 25% from these measures.
Written by

Environmental consultant, facilitator, founder & Director of Climate Works Ltd.