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Energy Footprint Tool

What is the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT)?

EFT is a national Church of England tool for churches to record churches’ energy use and calculate their carbon emissions. It forms part of online Annual Parish Returns.

This helps us reduce our contribution to climate change, a vital part of Caring for God’s Creation.

It was based on the Diocese of London’s previous Shrinking the Footprint returns. The Diocese migrated to the new system when it opened in 2020.

Each year, churches enter their energy figures from the year before. Once a church has entered all its data, they immediately receive a report and results on their computer or smartphone.  This includes:

  • The church’s carbon footprint in CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent)
  • a simple assessment of their buildings’ efficiency, in graphical form.

In 2021, EFT won a National Energy Award for ‘Innovation of the Year’.  The Church of England competed successfully with nine other shortlisted candidates, ranging from utility companies to technology companies to building services analytics.

Why do we need the EFT?

In 2020, the Diocese of London, with the Church of England, set itself the target of achieving net zero carbon (CO2e) by 2030.

The Diocese needs to track progress, by measuring churches’ use of energy.  EFT calculates emissions of CO2e from those measurements.

Most of churches’ emissions comes from the energy used by their buildings (mainly electricity and gas for light and heat).  Therefore the energy use of church buildings needs to be radically reduced, while still keeping the church warm and well lit. This means making their buildings more efficient.

Recent results

The highest EFT annual return rate for churches in the Diocese of London was 59%.  That was achieved in 2021 (reporting figures from 2020).

2022 returns, compared with the latest data from previous years, have shown that from 2005 to 2021, churches in the diocese saved on average:

  • 28.8% in annual energy use
  • 41.8% CO2e emissions.

That was easily the best result of any year to date, showing how it is possible for churches to make a difference.

The above figures were adjusted to allow for Covid lockdowns, so they were a true like for like comparison to previous years.

Each year, some entries were begun but not completed.  We want to make it easier for every church make good use of EFT, and get complete results.

A warm thank you to every church, incumbent and church officer who contribute to submitting their figures each year.

How to use the EFT

Annual Parish Returns can be found at Parish Returns.

Log in at  Annual Returns Online. Just enter your Username and Password, then you’re into the system, ready to go.

The system opens each year in January.  Churches need to complete their entries by the end of July, when the system closes to new entries.

Energy use figures can be taken either from energy bills for the whole year, and/or meter readings from the beginning and end of that year. It is helpful to have those bills or readings to hand before logging in.

Energy can be reported in kilowatt-hours (kWh) or the volume on the meter (cu metres for metric meters, 100s of cu feet for old imperial meters).  If these figures are not available, it is possible to report the cost. Either quantity or cost is sufficient.  However it is helpful to enter both; this helps the system to estimate one from the other for those who have only put in quantity, or only cost.

You will also need to enter any other types of heating such as heat pumps.

Efficiency compared to building use

To access EFT’s efficiency assessments for a church, it helps to have completed the Statistics for Mission sections in their annual return.  Some of this data is borrowed by EFT – it will just pop up pre-completed when going on to EFT.

Efficiency compared to building size

In addition a floor area for the church is needed, in square metres (= square feet divided by 10). That can be estimated from a plan, or by the church’s Quinquennial Inspector. The Church of England already has this data for many churches.  If they do have it for the building(s) being reported, the number will just pop up in the right box. If that figure is not correct, the entry can be amended.

Church halls

Once figures for the church building have been entered, any hall or other building with its own meters should also be reported on. A separate page or pages are provided for that purpose. The system points you where to go.

Solar panels

The size and any generation by solar panels on the church or hall roof should be reported.

The system works out gross energy and CO2e, then net figures after subtracting any electricity exported from solar panels.

Green energy and offsetting

The system also subtracts green energy from net figures. Green electricity (and, rarely, green gas) are taken from a short list of utilities and tariffs that have been examined by the Church of England.

These ‘Green Energy Suppliers’ are in a drop-down list, to be selected if applicable.

It is also possible to report any extra offsetting included in an energy tariff.  This is accounted separately from your gross and net footprints worked out as above.

Work-related travel

Information on work related travel may also be entered, to estimate its carbon footprint.

Submitting figures

If not all the data needed is to hand, it is possible to save and come back later. Don’t forget to come back and complete your entries!

Once entries are complete, and the ‘submit’ button is clicked, the church’s read-out is  returned.

More information and resources

For any questions or help, contact the Head of Environment and Sustainability, Brian Cuthbertson.

For further information and guidance see:


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