Cumbrian church 'claws back thousands of pounds' in energy bills after building thermal tent

Credit ITV Border
The construction of the tent cost £750 but is expected to save thousands for the church. Credit: ITV Border

A congregation is set to save around £4,000 in energy bills after creating a thermal tent inside their church.

The team at Christ Church in Cockermouth, Cumbria have sealed off the balcony, roof space and chancel area of the building using temporary flame-retardant sheeting, effectively reducing the building's volume to a quarter of the original space.

Prior to this move, the church had been facing an estimated increase in their annual gas bill of £12,000 due to the energy crisis.

The sheeting, woodwork framing and heavy duty metal clips cost the church £750 and some lighting had to be moved to make way for the tent.

Early indications are that the tent could reduce the church’s carbon footprint by three tonnes of CO2 per year. Credit: ITV Border

The Rev Canon Jane Charman, Team Rector of the Cockermouth Area Team and Grasmoor Mission Community leader, said: "It looks nice, it is keeping us far warmer when we worship, and we believe it is going to save us a significant amount of money.

“We explained very carefully to people what we were going to do and why and laid out the ground very carefully beforehand.

"The reaction from people – both congregation members and community groups who use our church - has been very positive.

"We are equally committed to being an Eco Church – we already have a bronze award and are working towards our silver – and so this is also all part of our approach to God’s creation.

"I’d like to think that if it is the success we hope it shall be, it will be something we do every winter and it’s something that the other 14 churches in our mission community may consider."

The Rev Canon Jane Charman explains more about the project

Churchwarden Roger Pritchett said: "Some years back sheeting had been laid across the balcony when work was done to the church roof.

"People remembered that and so we wondered if we could do something similar to reduce the building volume, raise the temperature and reduce heating costs.

"In effect we are stopping the warm air simply rising into the roof space and we’ve seen temperatures in church go up from 14 degrees to 20 degrees."

The sheeting – which is normally used to deck scaffolding - can be easily removed. At a recent concert, organisers asked that the balcony area be opened up, with the sheeting later replaced before the Sunday services.

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