What can schools do to save energy?

Reducing energy usage in your school should be a priority for two reasons: reducing carbon emissions and cutting costs. Schools are constantly being challenged to make more of their available resources, while keeping standards of education high. By reducing energy consumption and therefore expenditure, schools can pass the savings onto other spend areas, or (potentially) reinvest them in energy saving initiatives.

According to the Carbon Trust, schools could save up to £44m per year in total energy consumption if they implemented basic energy saving measures, which is why they need to be aware of the simple actions they can take to lower energy consumption and cut costs in the process.

The top three energy draws in schools are:

Space heating (fossil fuel): 45%

Electric lighting (electricity): 20%

Hot water (fossil fuel): 10%

1) Keep classroom temperatures consistent

Children are actually more comfortable than adults at lower temperatures due to their higher metabolic rates. The Government has recommended the following temperatures:

  • 18ºC for classrooms

  • 15ºC for circulation spaces (corridors, halls)

  • 21ºC for areas with young or special needs children

2) Heat buildings only when needed

Heating needs will vary throughout the school day, so make sure that the operating hours on the system adhere to the hours when buildings require heating and ventilation. Sometimes a thermostat will have been adjusted and forgotten about, so check settings monthly to ensure they’re consistent.

Consider upgrading your system controls. Efficient energy management systems will save money by adjusting heating more effectively and will soon pay for themselves. A compensator will adjust heat based on the weather, while an optimum start controller will assess how long it takes for the building to reach the desired temperature and bring the heating on at the optimum time before occupancy, depending on the weather.

3) Cut down on hot water wastage

Wasting hot water will not only cost you for the energy used to heat it, but also for the water used. Schools can install percussion taps which turn off automatically, insulate hot water storage tanks and distribution pipes to stop heat escaping and restrict boiler heating to relevant times using timers to avoid needless energy use.

4) Look after lighting

Figures from the Carbon Trust show that electric lighting represents a fifth of a school’s energy bill but accounts for just 8% of energy consumption. It’s a simple solution, but cutting costs associated with lighting starts with switching off lights when they’re not being used. Control sensors can help reduce consumption by automatically dimming lights when people are not around, and leaving blinds open will reduce the need for electric lighting by make the most of natural light during the day.

Think about energy efficient lighting options to reduce energy consumption - CFL bulbs use around 80% less electricity than a tungsten bulb, and can last up to ten times longer.

5) Implement energy management policy

Effective energy management policies in schools can drive the importance of making energy savings. By understanding the full, detailed picture of your current energy usage, you can identify ways to save energy at school and set goals for energy reduction with prioritised actions. You’ll also be able to measure the results on an ongoing basis. A specialist energy broker can make this task much simpler for schools.

Additional measures:

1) Manage the building fabric: Install better glazing, more insulation and draught lobbies at entrances to decrease energy usage.

2) Reduce kitchen energy usage by up to a quarter by using basic efficiency measures. Don’t use cooking equipment to heat the kitchen; turn it off immediately after use. Don’t overfill containers to be heated.

3) Purchase energy-efficient electrical equipment and don’t leave it on standby mode. Install seven-day usage timers and relocate heat-emitting equipment to well-ventilated areas.Turn off vending machines.

And finally, raise awareness!

By getting the students on board, schools will find it much easier to make the small daily changes which can make a huge difference to the quarterly bill.

  • Enlist students to help by reporting energy leaks, such as open doors and blazing lights in empty areas.

  • Gamify energy savings using leaderboards.

  • Integrate energy education into classroom learning.

Source: Inprova Energy

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