A Nova Scotia church is going green with heat pumps and solar panels and its pastor hopes others will follow suit.

The Cornerstone Wesleyan Church in Hammonds Plains is believed to be the first church east of Ontario to be producing energy and selling what it doesn’t use.

“The two things we know for sure is that electricity will continue to go up in price and sunshine will continue to be free,” says Pastor Denn Guptill.

As of last week, the church is producing power through 44 solar panels on the roof.

“They’re cool. They just sit up there and they create electricity,” says Guptill. “Every once in a while, on a beautiful day, I’m driving along and think, wow, the sun is making electricity at the church.”

The church estimates it will save about $2,500 a year thanks to the solar panels, and another $5,000 a year thanks to the heat pumps. The total cost of the project was roughly $80,000.

“So, the entire project, we figure a 10-year payback,” says Guptill.

What energy they don’t use at the church, they plan to sell to Nova Scotia Power.

“When they are not producing enough energy to meet their own needs, we provide the electricity that they need, and then when they’re overproducing, we will buy that energy back from them for other people to use on the grid,” says Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Beverley Ware.

The utility says about 180 customers across the province are using their own source of renewable energy to help power their homes and businesses.

Emma Norton, the energy efficiency coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre, has been acting as an energy coach for four other churches in Nova Scotia, as well as other non-profit organizations.

“Kind of holding their hand through the process of figuring out what are the opportunities in your church to reduce your energy consumption, how can you reduce your operating costs?” says Norton.

She says improving energy efficiency and cutting down on operating costs will also help those groups improve they services they provide.

Guptill says he hopes other churches will be inspired by the project and follow suit.

“Whether it’s solar or whether it’s simply the heat pump, but a way to reduce their footprint, their reliance on fossil fuel, and ultimately, not only of our finances, but of our earth.”

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster