Many amateur sports clubs are finding it difficult to make ends meet. This is a great shame, as they have an important function in Dutch society. Energy costs can amount to an average of 15 to 20 percent of a club’s budget, so there is much potential for savings. By taking a few simple steps, clubs can drastically reduce their energy bills – which is why the Nuon Club Competition was launched in October 2014.
worth a try
“I saw the campaign on Twitter and the prize money of 10,000 euros obviously appealed to me!” says an enthusiastic Heleen de Wit, secretary of Haaften Football Club, based near Zaltbommel, the Netherlands. With a “nothing ventured, nothing gained” mentality, she decided to enter the competition.
“I’ve been hearing for years that our lighting system is expensive and outdated, and only just meets the safety requirements. Our energy bills are always too high,” she says.
Vicky Loos, manager of Regional Communications & PR for the Netherlands/UK says:
“The Nuon Club Competition is based on a decision to support target groups at the heart of the community – in this case amateur sports clubs – because of the important role they play in society.”
The club competition offers sports clubs the chance to earn back their annual energy bill, up to a maximum of 10,000 euros, by submitting creative money-saving ideas. The winners then have to spend the amount won on a sustainable energy solution, such as insulation, solar panels or LED lighting, with the aim of substantially reducing their energy costs.
The jury of the Nuon Club Competition received 125 ideas and nominated 50 clubs based on creativity, the energy put into the conception of the idea and the content. The participants pulled out all the stops. Some examples of the serious and sometimes not-so-serious contributions included playing hockey in the dark with glow-in-the-dark hockey sticks, playing sport by candlelight, taking cold showers, LED lighting for sports fields and solar panels on a sports pavilion.
The Dutch public was able to vote online for the club with the best or most creative energy-saving idea. In addition to the money, the nine winning sports clubs would also receive customised energy advice.
“We meet with the clubs and have a look at their facilities,” explains energy analysis advisor Ruud Jansen, who visits the winning sports clubs along with two colleagues.
“Savings can often be made by insulating the canteen, changing rooms and boardroom. Energy efficient pumps for hot water, new exterior lighting and modern refrigeration in the kitchen all save money. An adjustment to the energy contract can sometimes make a difference of thousands of euros per year. It’s nice that Nuon also provides the non-winning nominated clubs with free energy advice.”
Football Club Haaften is one of the nine winners.
"We really did not think we would win, we are only a small club,” says de Wit. But their idea to replace the outdated lighting system with energy efficient LED lighting received a sufficient amount of votes from the public. While still recovering from the shock of being nominated by the jury, the club started to actively lobby for votes.
“We distributed door-to-door flyers, wrote to companies in the area and wrote about the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and our own website.”
“That is exactly what it’s about,” says Loos. “As a company you can tell people a nice story, but it is far more valuable when people write something positive themselves about your brand. Eighty percent of Dutch citizens like the idea of the Nuon Club Competition and think it is fitting for Nuon. As a result of all this positive attention we have earned back our PR investment three times over.”
In the meantime, the winner is happy with the reduced costs.
“Nuon’s energy advisor made us aware of ‘sneaky’ energy wasters, such as half-empty old fridges, lights being switched on unnecessarily, heating empty rooms and using old light bulbs,” de Wit says. “We noticed it is often something simple. We will also ask our members to join in. If we are all very aware of it, we can quickly reduce our energy consumption by 20 per cent. And of course, we are finally going to buy that new lighting system!”