Non-staff and non-equipment costs within an educational environment can sometimes be taken for granted and not all schools like to keep a close watch on their energy bills.
Simple tricks can help to reduce a school’s energy consumption by more than you probably think. In this post we will explain how to do just that.
9 simple ways to save energy in the schools
With just a little focus and attention on your energy bills, you can put actions in place that saves your school valuable money and reduces your carbon emissions.
Make the switch
It may sound obvious but check your current tariffs. Energy companies can legally move you on to a more expensive tariff as soon as your current one ends, and it could cost you up to 30% more. Your first stop should always be a comparison site, where you can match up the providers and potentially save you 100s of pounds with the minimum amount of effort.
In 2019, the UK government made it easier for schools to get a handle on their energy deal and find a better price with the School Switch website. In the same manner as you would for your home, you can gain instant quotes from energy suppliers and do away with the energy brokers who often add additional costs. If you’re looking to get off your current tariff, this is first place you should head.
Upgrade your heating controls and go smart
Modern heating control systems offer 7-day programming options, they are also now very accurate with the advent of smart meters which the Government believes will be commonplace by 2022. Smart meters let you track, almost in real-time, the usage of your energy and can help you reduce bills.
Reducing the temperature by a nominal amount can result in bigger savings than you probably think. According to Carbon Trust, reducing the thermostat by 1ºC can save as much as 8% on the annual heating bill without causing any discomfort. Likewise, operating the heating system for an hour less each day will save a similar amount.
Change to energy efficient lighting
That same government-backed Carbon Trust report said it estimates that lighting accounts for around 30% electricity used in a typical educational environment. It feels like making sure you’re vigilant with lighting will have no bearing on your overall bill – but there are things you can do to make small but significant changes.
Where possible, use lighting controls and replace all bulbs energy efficient LED (Light Emitted Diode) bulbs or CFL (Compact Florescent Lamps), both of which will use up to 80% less energy than tungsten bulbs and give you a longer life too. The upfront cost of LED bulbs is coming down all the time too, so that initial cost of upgrading to LED is reducing all the time.
It’s estimated that businesses lose £60m a year in the UK in wasted energy. In areas which are rarely used, take the time to install lighting sensors and you’ll be contributing a little less to that figure.
Keep watch on your water economy
Costs are rising for water year-on-year. The government believes that schools equipped with water conservation devices can use up to half the amount of those without. Installations such as urinal controllers, self-closing taps, flow restrictors and cistern dams are simple to fit, saving water and money.
Keep runs of pipe work short and insulate pipes properly, a vast amount of cold water can be lost before hot water comes through. It may also be possible to obtain more environmentally friendly insulation, speak to your LEA or purchasing group for advice.
Underground water pipe leakage can be a big issue in water efficiency, read your meter at night and again in the morning, if you have had a noticeable change then a leak is likely the cause. You can ask your water company about free leak detection.
Draught strip windows and doors
One of the oldest tricks in the book but still one of the most efficient and cost-effective. It will help improve comfort whilst saving you valuable pounds over the course of the year. Depending on the time of year, the gap around windows and doors can vary by 3mm, draft stripping can solve this issue and keep that nice warm air from escaping outside – costing your school money.
Possibly the cheapest method for insulating any building, the Energy Saving Trust estimate that up to £20 a year can be saved from draught proofing a home; imagine how much you can save in a building the size of a school. Get out that insulation tape!
Small scale renewable energy systems are pollution free and will help to reduce energy bills. They can also generate interest in energy efficiency amongst pupils and provide a valuable teaching resource. These can include wind turbines, biomass, solar power and heat pumps.
Often, these methods are costly upfront, but the technology is improving all the time and prices continue to fall. Consider your options, think in the long-term and you could find that your school makes significant savings over time. Plus, reducing your carbon emissions by adopting renewable energy is a fantastic message to spread amongst your pupils.
We all have to do our bit and switching to renewables is the best way your school can contribute.
Increase energy awareness
If you only do one thing, educate staff and students at every opportunity on the benefits of turning off energy sapping appliances when not in use. If 30% of all energy is wasted in the UK, think how much could be saved by better energy habits.
Run a workshop with your staff that outlines the cost of energy in the school, and how much could be saved just be adopting better practices. Switching lights off, closing doors and keeping projectors, interactive whiteboards and desktop computers off standby are small steps – but when it comes to saving energy every little helps.
Upgrade canteen appliances
Appliance manufacturers are constantly improving the efficiency at which their products operate. Dishwashers, ovens and fridges all use markedly less energy today than they did 10, 20 or 30 years ago.
Take a quick look around your canteen facilities – how old are the appliances your staff use? If they’re especially old, chances are they aren’t very efficient users of energy. Upgrading them make incur some initial costs, but over time you’ll see that energy bill fall.
Encourage the great outdoors
One final quick tip. In the summertime, encourage class to take place in the great outdoors. Kids love to get out of the classroom, and the fresh outdoor breeze is a nice change to the stuffy confines of a hot classroom. Plus, no one inside means no one using up electricity.