#electrifyscouting - Energy Efficiency in Scout Halls/Campsites

Adapted from a presentation at the L.O.A. Conference in 2023, this guide aims to help you save money and reduce your emissions with energy efficiency improvements at Scout Halls and Campsites.

Why do we need to improve our facility's energy efficiency?

  • Cost savings
    • Potential to reduce your hall and campsite's energy bills
  • Emissions reduction
    • Contribute to climate action in your local community
  • Lead by example
    • Youth and the community-at-large care about our climate and future
    • Follow the Scout Law, which teaches us to use resources wisely and care for our environment
    • Provide an opportunity for Youth leadership and empower your Venturers and Rovers to lead energy efficiency improvements

Step 1: Compare Energy Providers & Reduce Gas Use

The Victorian Government provides a once-per-year benefit for account holders who compare energy providers for the home. This tool is also available to our community/business energy accounts and can help you to reduce bills and find an affordable GreenPower provider. Check it out here.

Prices for Liquid Petroleum Gas have increased dramatically in the 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years and this will place extra strain on budgets. Consider your gas usage at your Scout Hall or Campsite and how it differs to household gas use:

  • Do you use hot water daily?
  • Do you heat your Scout hall with gas daily?
  • Do you need to keep gas appliances running during holiday periods?

For a more practical example, Lynden Park Scout Group have provided a snapshot of their gas charges from Nov 16 2021 to Nov 15 2022, with the below image showing two months of use:

Notice that they paid only $2.04 in usage throughout the two months, whilst the supply charge for those two months totaled $69.27. For the entire year, they only used $30.51 of gas, whilst the yearly supply charge was more than 10x that amount at $393.19. Shocking!

We strongly suggest that you consider switching to electric appliances, heating, and cooling, at the end of life of your gas appliances. If you start planning now for the future time when your gas appliance fails, you will already know exactly what electric product to replace it with and save on the headache!

Step 2: Plan the Replacement of Appliances & improve Insulation and Lighting

Simple wins for your hall/buildings:

  • Draft proofing helps to keep heat in in winter, and out in summer. Target windows, doors, walls & ceilings.
  • Add insulation to buildings where possible. Target ceilings and/or roof, walls and curtains on windows & under floor.
  • Replace inefficient lighting with bright, long-lasting, and efficient LED lighting.

Plan the replacement of your appliances before they kick the bucket & consider their use in the meantime:

  • Reduce the number of fridges/freezers in your buildings. Turn them off if they're not in use or are mostly empty.
  • Replace old fridges/freezers with energy efficient models.
  • Replace gas cooktops and ovens with electric models.
  • Consider 10amp portable induction cookers, which work great for indoor cooking activities and allow you to spread patrols out rather than cramp up the kitchen.
  • Consider instantaneous electric hot water (for small volumes) and heat pump storage hot water with small (matched) solar PV, for year round solar hot water.
  • Consider a reverse cycle split system (heat pump air conditioner) which is approx. 400% more efficient than resistive heating and approx. 700% more efficient than gas heating.
  • Remember, you don't need to upgrade every appliance straight away. Save those cash reserves for the next Scout camp, plan ahead for future changes and create a timeline of when you might need to replace appliances and how much you need to fundraise or what grants to apply for to assist.

Here's a quick example, a 20-year-old refrigerator could use 1,700 kWh of electricity every year, compared with about 450 kWh for a similarly sized new energy efficient model. At an electrical cost of 24 cents per kWh, that represents a savings of $300 per year and a potential payback of about 2-3 years.

Check out www.energytips.org.au for how-to guides on physical energy efficiency improvements.

Step 3: Apply for Grants to assist you on your Energy Efficiency journey

Plenty of government bodies and businesses provide grants to assist community groups to make these changes and save money. We've compiled a short list to help you get started:

Assistance with grant writing and fundraising is available.

Should we put Solar on our Scout Hall/Buildings?

This may seem like a great first step, but consider your hall use; if you're using energy mostly at night then you might not benefit so much from a Solar setup. We strongly suggest investigating all other options before solar. If you are ready to put Solar on your hall, perhaps also consider a battery wall which would allow you to utilize the renewable energy at night for Scout activities.

Can my Scouts get a badge for leading this project?

Absolutely! The Earth Tribe - Scouts Go Solar program provides great activities to teach Scouts of all ages about renewable energy & energy efficiency. If it suits their level of challenge, your Youth members may also want to complete this as a Special Interest Area project. Visit the badges page for more information.

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Got a question about Energy Efficiency?

Contact the State Commissioner Environment, we'll endeavour to get back to you and find the right solution for your Scout Group (or we'll know someone else that can help).

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