Energy efficiency in leisure and entertainment

The breadth of businesses covered under the leisure and entertainment sector is significant, but one thing is clear. There are many things you can do to start saving costs on your energy. We’ve included a range of steps to suit different budgets.

Being more energy efficient will not just help your bottom line but also show care towards the environment with your staff and customers.

Being proactive about energy efficiency measures and taking steps to reduce your consumption could result in bills that are 18-25% lower, usually getting your money back in less than 18 months.

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Who is this for?

Simple no cost changes

A little goes a long way: for example, £500 per year worth of savings over 3 years would make the same profit as a 5% margin from £30,000 of extra sales.

Heating energy efficiency


For every 1°C of overheating, you increase energy consumption by 8-10%, so make sure you have the right temperature. Turn the heating down by 2°C could save you £140 on a £1,000 bill. Here are some of the recommendations:

  • Multi-purpose for sports activities – 12-18°C
  • 18-21°C for sedentary activities
  • Pool hall - air temperature should be just 1°C above water temperature
  • Fitness centre and courts 16-18°C
  • Weight training 12-14°C
  • Ancillary halls 15°C for sports and 21°C for non-sports
  • Changing areas 20-25°C
  • Reception, offices and circulation 16-20°C
  • Refreshment and bar areas 18°C
  • Obtain feedback from staff – encourage them to report draughts, or if they are too cold or too hot.
  • Match heating needs to the time of day and outside environment, and review time settings monthly. A reduced temperature of 10°C is sufficient during the night for most buildings.
  • Make sure furniture doesn’t obstruct radiators and fans as the space won’t heat evenly.
Ventilation and air energy efficiency

Ventilation and air cooling

  • Take advantage of natural ventilation and free cooling by opening doors and windows to potentially halve costs. Just make sure you don’t do it in such a way that it poses a risk to your business or staff.
  • Align cooling times with working hours and occupancy, so you don’t overcool out of hours.
  • Decide on an outdoor temperature range (for example between 19-24°C) when neither heating nor cooling will be turned on.
  • Plan for heat from lighting, equipment and sunshine and adjust controls accordingly to avoid wasting energy.

MYTH: Leaving air conditioning on overnight reduces energy costs as the system stays at the required temperature. TRUTH: It only needs a fraction of the power and the temperature naturally cools during the night anyway.

Leisure and fitness

Leisure and fitness

  • Heated swimming pools, saunas and fitness suites are large drivers of energy use. For example, between four and ten air changes every hour are necessary to regulate humidity as a result of pool evaporation.
  • Switch off fitness machines and air conditioning at night. Seven-day timers could help automate your controls, , taking it off your mind.
  • If you have a swimming pool, consult the manufacturer details about backwashes. This can be an energy-intensive process.
  • Keep the water temperature between 28-30°C and the air temperature no more than 1°C above to reduce condensation and prevent unnecessary use of ventilation.
Lighting energy efficiency


  • Artificial light should only be used to supplement natural light, so keep windows, skylights and light fittings clean to let through as much natural light as possible.
  • Encourage staff to switch off the light and use simple light switch stickers so everyone feels confident that they are turning off the right light.
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Raising awareness with your staff is an important step; implementing simple practices can reduce your bill by as much as 25%. Advise them to:

  • Not switch on appliances too soon
  • Avoid using kitchen equipment to warm the space
  • Switch off cooking appliances immediately after use
  • Avoid overfilling saucepans and kettles
  • Use lids, keep refrigeration unit doors closed and defrost regularly
  • Switch off lights and extraction fans when not in use
  • Make sure refrigeration units are well ventilated and not placed against the wall
Building fabric energy efficiency

Building fabric

  • Check the building for damp once a year before winter to identify things like faulty gutters or split downpipes.
  • Use curtains and blinds to keep rooms comfortable. Close them at the end of the day during winter to help retain heat.

Straightforward low-cost changes

Heating energy efficiency


  • Is your thermostat affected by its location? Moving it could incur a small cost but it will mean it’s more accurate if not affected by radiator heat or placed in a draughty place. The location of the thermostat could make it raise or lower the temperature unnecessarily, based on inaccurate needs.
  • Maintain boilers and pipe work. Having your gas boiler serviced annually and the oil boiler serviced twice a year could save you 10% on heating costs.
Ventilation and air energy efficiency

Ventilation and air cooling

  • Make sure you review the performance of your ventilation and air circulation systems. If you’re not getting the desired results, there might be a fault with certain parts that you could easily replace. A system that is well maintained every year could lead to a 60% increase in efficiency.
Lighting energy efficiency


  • Occupancy sensors in toilets or lesser used areas can save 30% to 50% on lighting costs, while daylight sensors turn artificial light off when there is enough daylight.
  • Replace conventional bulbs with CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs) – they last 8x longer and use 80% less energy. What’s more, LEDs could give you 30,000-50,000 hours of use.
  • Metal halide floodlighting for outdoor sports are efficient but have a shorter life, whereas SON lamps have a golden light but are longer life. Consider what is best for your business.
  • Keep in mind that external flood lights (for example, in car parks) can cost £250 a year on their own if they're left on for 12 hours a night.

Cost per lamp: LEDs vs CFLs vs halogens

  LED CFL Halogen
Watts (equivalent lamps) 6W 11W 35W
Purchase per lamp £6.00 £3.50 £2.00
Typical annual lamp use (hours) 1,000h 1,000h 1,000h
Typical lamp lifetime (in hours) 30,000h 10,000h 2,000h
Typical lamp lifetime (years) 30 years 10 years 2 years
Cost of lamp purchases over 30 years £6.00 £10.50 £30.00
Annual energy consumption per lamp 6kW 11kW 35kW
Annual electricity cost per lamp at 14.05/kW £0.84 £1.55 £4.92
Total cost per lamp per year (Averaged over a typical LED malp life - 30 years) £1.04 per year £1.90 per year £5.92 per year

*Data from the Energy Saving Trust's "Selecting low energy lighting" guide.

Long-term savings from the right investments

For larger savings from energy efficiency you might need to spend some money upfront, especially when you’re planning refurbishment already.

Heating energy efficiency


  • Upgrade your heating controls. For example, use a compensator which works based on external weather to regulate the temperature. Or use an optimum start controller which optimises heating based on the time it takes to reach desired temperature. These two devices will give you a return on investment in about two years.
Building fabric energy efficiency

Building fabric

  • Better insulation increases the value of the buildings as well as lower costs. Did you know that insulating pipework can reduce energy losses by 70%?
  • Consider improving window glazing. The most efficient is triple glazing, or you can also coat windows for insulation.
Leisure and fitness

Leisure and fitness

  • Using a pool cover to maintain the temperature and reduce ventilation could save between 10% and 30% in energy costs. You can get spa pool and jacuzzi covers as well. The payback period is estimated to be about 18-36 months.
  • A humidistat could be fitted to automate when ventilation is needed for swimming pools (above 65-70% humidity).
  • Consider the lifetime use of equipment, not just the upfront cost. A pool pump motor could cost £300 to buy, but £30,000 to run continuously over its lifespan.
  • Consider solar thermal technology to heat pool water and the building’s heat system.
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  • Buy energy rated A+ equipment, preferably with built-in sensors that automatically switch off when not in use.
  • It's more efficient to run a dishwasher on an eco-mode that it is to wash the same load by hand.

Action plan


Start by making a note of your current consumption.

By default, your smart meter will record consumption data in 30-minute intervals. You can use this starting point as a benchmark.


Do you notice any variations during the year?

Make a note of them and think about what could cause them. For example, if your business is affected by the weather, you could save energy by investing in better insulation and save money in the long term.


Benchmark your current energy use

How does it compare to last year or last season? Make sure you analyse similar time periods (for example, December 2018 with December 2019) to make sure the improvement in efficiency isn’t influenced by other factors.


How much are you going to reduce your consumption by?

Set a realistic goal and a target date of when you’ll measure consumption again to track how you’re doing.


Choose the steps you’ll take to achieve those goals

Use the categories above to put advice into practice and involve your employees. To motivate staff, try to make it into a competition. Why not offer a free meal out to the team that comes up with the most energy saving ideas or commit to donating the savings to a local charity that they choose?


Make the changes and measure the results

Communicate all improvements with your staff, no matter how small, to encourage an energy efficient state of mind. And when you're ready to make more changes to become energy efficient, come back to this action plan and start again.

The facts, figures and advice have been sourced from the Carbon Trust, Energy Trust and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (formerly known as the Department of Energy and Climate Change).