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Get an Energy Audit for your Church

{mosimage}The choir was always sweating and those in the pews were freezing at College Place United Methodist Church.

It took a professional energy audit to realize what was going on, something anyone could have seen, but who goes climbing around in the pipe room or attic spaces in the church?

Joseph Gilmore, of Gilmore Consulting Services in Columbia, let his high-powered equipment lead him to the rooms above the chancel that house the organ pipes. On one side, a door to the attic had been set aside rather than putting it back to close up the attic.

{mosimage}By Emily Cooper

The choir was always sweating and those in the pews were freezing at College Place United Methodist Church.

It took a professional energy audit to realize what was going on, something anyone could have seen, but who goes climbing around in the pipe room or attic spaces in the church?

Joseph Gilmore, of Gilmore Consulting Services in Columbia, let his high-powered equipment lead him to the rooms above the chancel that house the organ pipes. On one side, a door to the attic had been set aside rather than putting it back to close up the attic.

“A considerable amount of conditioned air-flow never reached the choir,” Gilmore said. Instead, the cooled sanctuary air went straight up through the attic opening to the outside. The airflow took the path of least resistance to the outside. This made it easier for the streams of the colder air to sink over the congregation, Gilmore said.

At a report to the church’s Board of Trustees, Gilmore expressed concern about the air returns in the sanctuary as well, suggesting they be more thoroughly explored to see if they are air-tight or letting in outside air, as his study suggested. This could greatly improve comfort and efficiency in the sanctuary, he said.

Gilmore ran an air-infiltration test at College Place, setting up heavy-duty fans and sealing all doors to create a partial vacuum to detect breaks in the church’s thermal envelope with an infrared camera on a warm August day.

The same incoming-heat routes captured on the camera would be letting heat out in the winter.

{mosimage}Covered with protective glass in recent years, the sanctuary windows let in very little heat or draft.

Gilmore opened a small storage room off a Sunday school room and saw big hole in the ceiling tile that was letting the attic air in.

The infrared camera showed lots of conditioned air-loss around light fixtures and measured a conduit running down a wall at a high temperature. Dark shades in a Sunday school class captured the heat and held it.

Gilmore had suggestions that trustees can do themselves, beginning with keeping records on water and energy usage.

To reduce air infiltration, he suggested inspecting and sealing cracks found in the building; boxing and/or sealing around light fixtures. He recommended eliminating leakage and sealing around ductwork (including returns) with foam board and mastic sealing. Cap and seal all piping and venting no longer used. Install an automatic or manual damper for the kitchen exhaust fan. Consider sealing all drop-ceilings. Add radiant-barrier tenting where possible.

Weatherstrip all doors, Gilmore said. Convert all incandescent lighting to compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. Install lighting sensors, and timers where appropriate, to control room lighting and bathroom fans.

 

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