The energy crisis is leading to incredibly difficult times for everyone.
For Shere Swimming Pool this means the prospect of significantly increased gas and electricity costs at least in the medium and longer term, as our current contracts come to an end soon. This is even allowing for the very welcome short-term help just promised for consumers and businesses by the government, but for which the extent and duration are particularly uncertain for businesses.
As this has become evident over the last few months, and due to the climate impact of fossil fuels, we have fortunately already been working on options for renewable technology and efficiency savings, for over a year.
Our bold objective now is to put these cost-saving solutions into place with added urgency - and before next season. This will form the third, essential final phase of our enormously successful project so far, to upgrade the pool and ensure its financial and environmental sustainability in an uncertain future.
In brief, the proposal is to replace our inefficient old gas boilers with a new 50kw Air Source Heat Pump and a new, highly efficient gas boiler as back up, the total cost for which is expected to be around £37,000.
As well as reducing overall energy consumption and costs, the Air Source Heat Pump will drastically reduce our carbon emissions (currently exceeding 40 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year). Most of the gas, which causes the emissions, will be replaced by cleaner electricity using the pump - a true example of what is possible as we all strive towards Net Zero, to help avert the climate crisis.
We already have £7,000 in donations and a small grant to contribute to this cost, and the prospect of a further environmental grant from LoCase of up to a possible maximum £14,800. However, to obtain that grant we need to demonstrate that we have all the funding for the total cost of the project secured. These grants are only available for the next few months and with demand for financial support for environmental projects rocketing we therefore now need to act fast.
Funding Urgently Needed- £20,000
Allowing for some contingency and other minor final pool upgrade costs, we therefore need to raise up to an additional £20,000, very urgently. We are aiming to raise the extra money in September and October so that the grant application can be submitted in early November, in order that the new equipment can be procured and installed before next season.
Your contribution towards this outcome (small or large) will be a legacy that we believe will be in the spirit of Lady Arthur Russell nearly 150 years ago, Margaret Ellinger in the 50’s and all those who have already recognised the value and enjoyment that Shere Pool brings to the community, through considerable donations over the last few years.
We very much appreciate that nearly everyone in the local community will be adversely affected by the cost-of-living crisis, but we would nevertheless be grateful to hear from local businesses as well as others in the community who are able to support this important cause, in addition to members of the pool club.
Knowing that we can commit to this investment as soon as possible will also enable us to budget for next season and to set the level of member subscriptions for next year. Even allowing for the energy savings resulting from installation of this more efficient equipment, it is inevitable that subs. will need to be increased substantially next year, but we will be working to minimise the increase.
We have recently entered into new, three year fixed rate contracts for gas and electricity to provide some certainty as to the maximum we will need to pay, whilst tariffs were increasing extremely rapidly recently. These are at much higher rates than the very low rates we have been paying over the last two to three years, but there may well be some reduction to the rates we actually need to pay, as a result of recently announced government support for businesses. This has only been promised for six months but will probably have to be extended to the next two years. What will happen after that to prices and any ongoing support is totally unknown at this stage.
We are therefore also aiming to take as many further measures we can ourselves to reduce our energy consumption going forward. These include continuing to run the pool at a reduced normal temperature of 26 degrees rather than 28 degrees. This seems to have been acceptable to members over the last couple of months (with complaints of the water being too cold being limited to the days when, regrettably, the temperature dropped below 26 degrees).
Swimming pool efficiency experts recently commented that a reduction of only two degrees in water temperature could lead to a 30% reduction in energy costs, so the savings, even if less than this, could be very substantial. We are also looking at reducing the minimum water temperature maintained during the winter and a possible shortening of the season, to start later than the beginning of April and close by the end of September again.
If we can obtain the major commitment to additional donations over the next month or so, which will enable us to obtain the vital, complementary extra grant funding needed in November, then we should be able to work out all the financial implications. We can then formulate a proposal for how much member subs. will need to be increased by, in time for the Shere Swimming Pool Club AGM, scheduled this year for slightly later than usual, on Monday 5 December. That will then be just in time to be incorporated in membership applications to be submitted from January 2023.
Rather than asking for more donations, prior to the emergence of and the extent of the energy crisis being known, we had just planned to ask members for short-term loans, which we would have been confident could be repaid within three years, given the fact that the club normally makes a good operating surplus. However, much higher gas and electricity prices and the uncertainty about what our costs will be over the next few years means that operating surpluses are going to be much less likely, so this approach would be more risky.
More on the plans will be provided here in due course.
How to Donate
The following button will take you directly to our campaign at the Charities Aid Foundation
Alternatively you can follow this link: https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/21683
If you would rather donate by a bank transfer, the details are as follows:
Sort code 309089, Account no. 19049762, Account name “Shere Swimming Pool Club”