• All Saints Episcopal Church in Brookline, Mass., which installed a new boiler with zoned heating, programmable thermostats, and more efficient lighting, was rewarded with annual savings of $17,000. They've used 14 percent of the savings to buy 100 percent renewable energy, further reducing pollutants.
• Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula, Ga., revamped its lighting system, converting fixtures and exit signs. They're saving $32,000 a year in church expenses and 450,000 kilowatt hours of energy.
Churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples get help for stewardship efforts in EPA's Energy Star program, which identifies equipment, appliances, and lighting products that are energy efficient and provides some funding (www.energystar.gov).
The interfaith power and light movement, now active in about a dozen states, aims to help congregations by providing ready access to technical services for efficiency upgrades; information on funding resources; and a means for purchasing solar, wind, or landfill gas power.
The movement - sparked in California by an interfaith discussion on how to respond to global warming - began in the late '90s in the Episcopal church. After gaining backing from the state's bishops, MacAusland and Sally Bingham, a priest at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, formed Episcopal Power & Light (EP&L) as California was deregulating the electrical industry.
"Suddenly people were going to have choices about where their electricity came from, and we focused on clean energy," says the Rev. Ms. Bingham. Within two years, 60 Episcopal churches were buying renewable energy from Green Mountain Energy and using conservation measures.
"Renewable energy is the most exciting part of the program - getting power from the sun and wind," says MacAusland. "But you need to build your base on energy conservation and efficiency, and by saving energy and money you can begin to afford premium grades of power."
Green-energy products will cost more until they are fully developed. In Massachusetts, one product, ReGen, currently costs 3 cents more a kilowatt hour, about 60 cents more a day for an average home, MacAusland says.