Your guide to saving energy

Practical hints and tips from the Football Foundation on how your club or organisation can deal with rising energy costs by becoming more energy efficient.

Why save energy?

Climate change is already impacting our daily lives. With increased flooding, higher summer temperatures and other unpredictable weather occurring more regularly, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to manage sports pitches and facilities. It’s also becoming more expensive to run, maintain and rectify any problems that happen as a result of this damage. And there's no forgetting the responsibility we have to protect our natural environment for generations to come.  

Reducing energy consumption plays a big part in that, but it is also the best strategy for tackling the high prices we’re currently seeing.  It’s important that sports clubs and facilities are able to serve their communities for generations to come and to do so they need to be financially sustainable.  Saving money by reducing energy consumption means that resources be directed to where it really matters - the activities themselves. 

Reduce the need for and use of energy


Ways to reduce your energy use: 

1. Ensure best practice from all users – turn off lights and heating when not using rooms or the building

2. Ensure best practice from all users – turn off all electrical appliances at the socket once leaving the building or room for the day

3. Reduce the overall temperatures of boilers, radiators and thermostats – rooms can remain comfortable at 18 degrees C rather than 21 plus, whilst boilers heating water to 60 degrees C will make some savings

4. Lower the heating temperature of any rooms or spaces that are used less frequently

5. If the Club has a laundry then wash at no more than 40 degrees C

6. Avoid using a tumble dryer wherever possible

7. Reduce any potential heat loss through seepage – ensure doors and windows are kept shut and gaps in walls, ceilings or roofs are repaired. Draught excluders are also cheap and easy to fit around external doors

8. Improve insulation – one of the easiest ways is to get extra insulation in the roof space if possible, other methods of improving insulation such as adding cladding panels internally or externally would become larger capital projects

9. Insulate any hot water tanks

10. Limit hours of usage to daylight hours wherever possible

11. Use an energy tracking app or device to monitor usage and help measure any reductions to reinforce the message of success with evidence

12. Ensure all light fittings are low-energy bulbs

13. Replace any fittings such as dishwashers, showers and shower heads with energy-efficient appliances when their lifespan has ended (or before if possible)

14. Service and/or upgrade any boilers to more energy-efficient models

15. Check to make sure you’re on the most competitive energy tariff with your supplier and be prepared to negotiate and possibly switch suppliers if a better deal is available

16. If using floodlights, only use the required LUX levels as needed – for example, training sessions can happen at 120LUX as opposed to the 200LUX needed for match play

Use cleaner and/or cheaper energy sources


Some ideas for alternative energy sources to assist with going green and/or making cost savings:

1.    Solar power – photovoltaic cells; these are the solar panels that are seen regularly now on many rooftops and often in fields. They generate electricity via exposure to sunlight and feedback surplus energy generated back into the national grid which in turn helps reduce the user's energy bills. They can be expensive to buy and install and will require maintenance, but products are improving all the time.

2.    Solar power – solar water heating harnesses the power of the sun to raise the ambient temperature of the water used in a heating system so that less energy is used to heat it to the required 60 degrees C than if it started from cold. Plastic panels on the roof are installed and a large tank is needed internally. The systems, however, are relatively cost-effective and easy to maintain.

3.    Ground/air source heat pumps; by using heat exchangers these units are positioned externally to any building (or under the ground) and are able to supply heating internally without the need for a traditional gas boiler with radiators. The units are electrical and as such require an electrical supply and are not therefore ‘free’ energy, but can be used efficiently to lower heating bills.

4.    LED lighting; floodlights and other lights such as amenity lighting in car parks have previously used quite a lot of energy. By switching to LED lighting energy costs can be significantly reduced. Using LED floodlights can use around 60% less energy (subject to specification). Installing them can be expensive and the lights will need regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance, but a typical club with a full-size artificial grass pitch could save almost £8,000 per year compared to traditional metal halide floodlights

5.    Biomass boilers; using organic matter such as wood pellets or logs, they’re able to replace existing heat sources and fuel existing central heating systems. By using organic material, carbon footprint is potentially off-set by the renewable nature of the fuel, plus the fuel also absorbs carbon whilst growing. It’s worth noting, they’re optimal in terms of cost savings when replacing systems that use solid fuels such as coal or LPG gas in more rural areas. Efficient gas boilers will have similar usage cost.

Strategies for implementation

Strategies for implementation diagram
Strategies for implementation diagram

Everyone who uses the site has a part to play in helping reduce energy use and wastage. Make sure there are clear communications to highlight the simple things they can do, that don’t cost money, just some thought.

Other methods are more intrusive and expensive. Larger projects that come with higher costs should be done in consultation with a professional who’ll be able to offer guidance to ensure you avoid the ‘high cost – low benefit’ situations shown in red above.

It might be that a formal new responsibility within the Club or organisation be needed to help lead on these ideas; a Sustainability Officer.  They can be the main point of contact when dealing with energy companies, issue the communications to all users and help drive any new energy efficiency projects forward.  Attached to this document is a sustainability checklist that the Sustainability Officer or whoever takes this programme on, can use as a guide.

The Football Foundation's Energy Support Programme


Clubs within the National League System (Step 1 to 6) or Women’s Football Pyramid (Tier 1 – 4) are ineligible for this Fund and should monitor the Premier League Stadium Fund website for any funding updates.

Next steps:

1. Use the Football Foundation Sustainability Checklist (download below) to ensure you are thinking about reducing consumption first and utilising cheaper energy second.

2. If you think you’re eligible for the Football Foundation Energy Fund contact your County FA Facility lead and submit the expression of interest.

3. The Football Foundation will review your expression of interest and will be in touch with you to discuss your proposal. 

Read the Sustainability Checklist