Energy saving tips for sport and recreational facilities

People love to expend physical energy at a well-run sport and recreational facility. Those who manage these facilities know that it also takes lots of energy – electricity and gas – to run them well!

Ice Arena Wales, a customer of our sister-company, ClearVUE Systems, knows how energy-intensive an activity centre like theirs can be. The ice hockey rink – home to the Cardiff Devils ice hockey team of the professional British Elite Ice Hockey League in addition to being a public ice skating, figure skating, and multipurpose centre – experience very high energy costs to run their ice plants, cooling systems, air conditioning system, chillers, and air handling systems. 

By employing smart energy saving practices such as keeping lights off in certain rooms or isolating heating and cooling in another – with the help of our energy management software solutionIce Arena Wales were able to optimise their energy behaviour..

Improving energy efficiency by as little as 10 percent can save recreational centres like Ice Arena Wales up to 70 percent on energy bills. In this post, we look at some simple yet effective measures you can take to reduce your energy consumption and costs. 

Power on equipment strategically

Sports, leisure and recreational facilities require lots of energy to power electrical exercise equipment. Around 30 per cent of electricity spend alone is for equipment such as treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, and more. If you are open for 24-hours per day, your energy spend increases even more. 

Here are some simple ways to keep your exercise equipment running as energy-efficiently as possible:

  • Switch off during off-peak hours — Take time to consider the attendance numbers of your gym at different hours of the day. If you have far fewer people inside during off-peak hours, it makes little sense to have all machines powered on for so few patrons. Even when machines are on standby mode, they consume power. Instead of leaving all of the machines left on standby, keep a proportion of them off at the wall and have a select few in a designated section turned on. If you can, invest in programmable seven-day timers that switch exercise equipment off and on at predetermined intervals. 
  • Regularly maintain your equipment — Exercise machines experience wear and tear quickly, especially when used throughout the day. Keep a good servicing schedule for your treadmills, bikes, and other cardio and exercise machines. The better they are operating, the more energy efficient they remain.
    Not to mention as well that you want to keep your guests safe as they use the machines!
  • Invest in energy-efficient equipment — Do your best to research and purchase the most energy-efficient exercise equipment on the market. The more affordable, albeit less energy efficient equipment options could cost you more in the long-term than a more energy efficient model. There are even exercise equipment like self-propelled treadmills (ones with curved belts) and air bikes (also known as assault bikes) that are increasingly popular equipment choices for athletes. 

Keep temperatures right

The Carbon Trust says that around 17 per cent of energy consumed by leisure and recreational centres goes towards heating. 

Understanding appropriate temperature levels for different areas of your centre is key to saving you money on your energy bills. As a general example, you can reduce heating for areas such as sport halls and cardio and free weight zones because patrons will be keeping themselves warm through their activities. Changing rooms and pools, on the other hand, can have regular heating to keep customers comfortable. 

Below is a general guideline for temperature levels for different zones in your sport or leisure centre: 


It is important to install the correct light fixtures for different areas. Changing rooms require a balance of bright lights around mirrors and dimmers in toilets and showers. Courts, pitches, and other playing areas need strong lighting, while spectator areas can do fine with lower-energy options. 

Here is some advice for managing energy-efficient lighting for your sports and recreational facilities:

  • Label light switches — Gyms, fitness studios, pitches, halls, snack areas, changing rooms – all of these have different lighting setups. Labeling your lighting systems helps you and staff members know better how to manage the lighting in different areas. This will help you avoid wasting electricity through needless lighting.
  • Install occupancy sensors — Not every room in the centre will be used at one time. Installing occupancy sensors will help you manage lighting for those rarely or intermittently used rooms and halls throughout the centre, helping you cut down on wasted electricity.
  • Install low-energy lighting — Low-energy light bulbs can still provide adequate lighting to different zones while making savings for you on your energy bill. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) last eight times as long and use a quarter of energy than regular light bulbs. Tri-phosphor alternative lighting burns bright and uses less energy than traditional tube lights. 

Smart A/C and ventilation use

As much as 40 per cent of energy costs for sport and leisure centres (with pools) are devoted to air conditioning. This means that every measure taken to reduce A/C and ventilation costs will go a long way towards your savings. 

  • Use natural ventilation where possible — Letting in fresh, circulated air from the outside saves you money on A/C costs and, importantly for your patrons, provides some relief to everyone inside. Be mindful of health and safety implications before opening windows and doors. 
  • Close windows and doors when the A/C is on — Yet if the outdoors are too hot and sweltering, it is best to keep windows and doors closed and run a bit of A/C. Lots of energy is wasted if the A/C and the warm outdoor air battle inside your facilities. Keep doors and windows closed where possible, reminding staff to bear this in mind as they work.
  • Institute a “dead band” on the thermostat — Heating and air conditioning should never be used simultaneously. This can be avoided by implementing a temperature “dead band”, or an established temperature gap of when the heater and the A/C unit are able to switch on. For example, you can trigger the heater to turn on when temperatures drop below 20°C, and the A/C will trigger when temperatures rise over 24-25°C.
  • Maintain equipment — Of course, the above advice can be all for naught if A/C (and heating) units are rundown and operating inefficiently. Schedule regular maintenance work for these units. If you don’t, you run the risk of using 50 per cent more energy than what is normally required. 

Tips for managing energy for pools

Swimming pools are significant energy users. They require energy for filtering, pumping, heating, and cooling. Loss of water heat through evaporation is another waste of energy.

The best way to stay energy efficient when managing swimming pools is to educate staff members on keeping the pool and the hall at the optimum temperature. Closely monitor the temperature of the hall – it should remain precisely 1°C warmer than the temperature of the water to avoid evaporation from the surface.

As for the temperature of pool water: training and competition pools should be around 25°C, and spa and hydrotherapy pools should be around 40°C.

Switch energy suppliers and save more

Another way you can save money on energy bills is to switch energy suppliers. If your business does not regularly compare energy suppliers, you are likely overpaying on your gas and electricity. With, you could save an average of £179 a year on business gas and electricity. If you’re looking to compare gas and electricity for your business, we make sure you get the most accurate energy deals on the market.

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