Given the energy intensive equipment and infrastructure required to run a recreational centre, it’s easy to see why energy costs are so significant within the sports and leisure sector. Swimming pools, electrical fitness equipment and large sports halls all consume a massive amount of energy, often making it difficult for managerial staff to strike a balance between functionality and efficiency.
At Gazprom Energy, we help businesses, large and small, to better manage their day-to-day energy use — providing practical solutions tailored to the requirements of the business. We’ve taken our experience in helping UK businesses manage their energy needs to create a comprehensive guide looking at some of the ways businesses in the sports and leisure industry can improve their energy consumption habits.
Did you know that by improving energy use by as little as 10%, sports and leisure facilities in the UK could collectively save up to £70 million a year? Here, we offer practical tips on how recreational businesses can boost their energy efficiency.
Wet and dry leisure centres rely on efficient air conditioning (A/C) and ventilation to regulate air temperature, which is often higher than usual due to the heat gains from staff, customers, electrical equipment and lighting. This is particularly true of wet centres, where an air conditioning system is vital in ensuring the optimum temperature of the pool hall and changing facilities.
According to a recent Carbon Trust report, A/C and ventilation accounts for 39% of energy costs for a typical leisure centre with a pool, so it’s important to take advantage of any opportunities to save on A/C costs. Here are a few ideas on how to reduce the amount of energy used by A/C and ventilation systems.
Statistics from the Carbon Trust reveal that heating accounts for around 17% of energy consumed by leisure centres — a significant annual cost. Many leisure and recreation centres believe that to keep both customers and staff happy, heating must be switched on at all times, but this isn’t always the case, and often the heating system can be completely shut down without any complaints from centre patrons.
The trick to saving on heating bills is to understand the temperatures which are appropriate for different zones within the leisure centre. For instance, a sports hall, where lots of physical activity takes place, should be considerably cooler than the reception area or seating areas. Below, we provide a guide to some of the recommended heating temperatures for different zones in sports and leisure facilities.
Multi-purpose sports hall
12-18 (depending on the activity)
25-30 (depending on pool temperature)
Gym and fitness area
Weight training suite
Secondary sports halls
12-21 (19-21 for non-sport activities)
Reception and offices
*Source — The Carbon Trust
Adequate lighting is essential to the comfort and safety of a fit-for-purpose leisure centre, helping create a bright and welcoming environment. However, given that lighting accounts for around 20% of total energy spend in sport and leisure facilities, it’s important to find ways to reduce the energy consumption and cost of lighting without forgoing customer satisfaction and comfort.
Here are a few essential tips for reducing the cost of lighting.
Consider what sort of lighting is needed
Sport, swimming and recreation halls, as well as reception and customer areas, may require bright lighting, but other areas, like corridors and storerooms, simply don’t. Assessing which areas of the building need bright lighting and which don’t could lead to significant energy savings, with expensive energy-intensive bulbs replaced with more efficient alternatives in some areas of the centre.
When it comes to deciding on the most efficient lighting setup for sport and leisure centres, it pays to be thorough when assigning the appropriate bulb to different environments. In changing rooms for instance, a good balance of light is required, with bright lighting around mirrors, and dimmer options in showers, toilets and cubicles. The same goes for sports halls and their adjoining spectator areas, with pitches and activity areas requiring a good amount of light, and seating areas only a low-energy option.
By creating different lighting zones in the leisure centre according to a room’s specific usage, you may be able to shave a decent sum off your annual lighting bill.
Label light switches
Leisure centres often have complex lighting systems, with some rooms featuring a myriad of different light switches. To avoid any confusion as to which switch does what, it’s a good idea to label them, eliminating the risk of wasted energy through the wrong lights being switched on. With lots of different members of staff using the centre at any given time, some of whom may not be familiar with using the facilities, labelling light switches is a great way to prevent wasted energy.
Install occupancy sensors
It’s unlikely that every room in the leisure centre will be in use at any one time, so why waste money lighting empty spaces? Install occupancy sensors in non-essential rooms like corridors, toilets, store cupboards and secondary sports halls, and lights will only switch on when there’s someone in the room — so you can stay in better control of your lighting costs.
Install low-energy lighting
Low-energy doesn’t necessarily mean dim. Invest in the appropriate low-energy bulbs, and you can still adequately illuminate different areas of the leisure centre whilst making great savings on the cost of lighting. We’d recommend replacing old tungsten bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which last eight times longer and use only 25% of the energy. It’s also a good idea to replace old tube lights with tri-phosphor alternatives, which are incredibly bright and use a fraction of the power.
If replacing your current lighting sounds like a big expense on a tight budget, why not see if your business qualifies for an interest-free loan from the Carbon Trust? The Carbon Trust provides energy efficiency loans to qualifying SMEs in England and Wales, up to the value of £100,000. These loans are there to help businesses invest in energy saving projects, like replacing existing heating and lighting systems.
One of the most significant energy expenses for wet leisure centres is maintaining and heating swimming pools, with filtering, pumping and a loss of water heat through evaporation among the main culprits when it comes to wasted energy at the poolside.
A simple way to ensure efficient swimming pool energy management is to educate members of staff on the importance of keeping the pool and the hall at the optimum temperature. Train them to use the pool controls effectively, so the water remains at a constant temperature which limits evaporation. The temperature of the hall should also be closely monitored, and should remain precisely 1°C warmer than the temperature of the water to inhibit evaporation from the surface.
Swimming pool water temperatures should range from 25°C for training and competition pools to 40°C for specialist spa and hydrotherapy pools. Should the water be above or below the recommended temperature for the type of pool, energy is not being used efficiently.
Sports, leisure and recreational facilities rely on lots of electrical equipment, particularly in gym and fitness suites. Operating energy-intensive exercise equipment on a daily basis can be a huge drain on energy, with electricity spend accounting for around 30% of a leisure centre’s average annual energy cost.
Here, we provide a few simple tips on how to reduce the energy impact of electrical fitness machines and models.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to invest in programmable seven-day timers, which will switch the machines off and on at predetermined intervals.
For sport and leisure businesses not looking to spend a lot when it comes to improving energy efficiency, savings are still achievable by promoting good energy management across the business. Here are a few tips on how to better manage day-to-day energy requirements.
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