Energy costs can be a huge chunk of a school’s budget, from heating to lighting, there are lots of energy-intensive appliances at work all day, keeping your classroom up and running. So, how can schools save energy?
With a little teamwork and lots of planning, you can find ways to effectively reduce your school’s usage, saving you money and creating a more eco-friendly learning environment. From energy audits for schools, to encouraging greener behaviour from your students, our guide is full of great tips to help your school save energy.
Energy Audits for Schools
Before you can start making savings, you need to understand your usage. According to the Carbon Trust, UK schools spend an estimated £542 million on energy bills every year. The exact cost for each school will vary depending on the size, number of students and the age of the building. So, the first thing you need to do is understand your usage, the best way you can do this is by carrying out an energy audit.
An energy audit for your school will help you see the full picture of your energy usage and allow you to identify areas where changes can be made. Generally, air conditioning and heating systems are seen as the main culprits for excessive energy consumption, but in schools, lighting and tech are also big users, so it’s important to be comprehensive in your audit and cover all areas.
To help you get started, why not check out our comprehensive guide to conducting a business energy audit? We’ve also included a free checklist, making it even easier to identify areas of improvement.
How Can Schools Save Energy - Getting Children and Staff on Board
A great place to start is by getting your students involved in energy saving activities. This can be done for students of all ages, from key stage one all the way up to university (though some activities may need to be adapted slightly!).
By educating young people about the importance of saving energy and encouraging eco-friendly behaviour, you are setting them up for a healthier future by equipping them with the knowledge they need to live more sustainably.
To help support this, you can create a culture of eco-consciousness in your school by encouraging other environmentally friendly behaviours, even if they are not directly related to your energy bills. For example, you could consider introducing more recycling bins, composting food waste, litter picking, and rewarding those using greener modes of transport for their commute to school.
To find out how you can bring energy saving into your student’s learning and for more tips on how you can educate students on energy efficiency, check out our recent blog: Teaching Pupils About Energy Efficiency.
Our Top Energy Saving Activities for Schools
So, you’ve done your energy audit and identified some areas to improve on, but how exactly can your school save energy? There are lots of practical changes that you can start implementing today, as well as some more long-term energy saving projects.
Switch up your lighting
If your school uses fluorescent strip lighting, consider swapping this out for more energy efficient LED lighting, which not only uses up to 75% less energy, but can also last 25 times longer.
In the summer months, you can even go the extra mile and turn your lights off completely and make use of natural sunlight where possible. Not only does this save energy, but studies have shown that students are more productive when working in natural light.
As well as changing the type of lighting you use, you can also introduce light sensors, that turn off after extended periods of inactivity. These can be particularly useful in areas such as staff rooms and toilets that are not always in constant use.
Keep up with maintenance
This can be anything from a dodgy radiator in the hallway to a broken fridge in the staff room. Faulty appliances are notorious for guzzling excessive amounts of energy. Although you will have to pay an upfront cost to repair or replace items, you will be saving energy and money in the long run.
Upgrade your equipment to save energy in schools
As well as staying on top of repairs, upgrading certain equipment for more modern, energy efficient alternatives can help reduce your usage. When choosing appliances, make sure to check their efficiency rating, most products will be given a rating from A to G, with A being the most efficient and G being the least efficient.
Improve insulation in your school buildings
Modern buildings are often much better when it comes to energy efficiency and temperature regulation. And although we’re not suggesting a complete demolition and re-build plan, there are ways you can modernise older buildings to help regulate temperature better and reduce your reliance on costly heating and cooling systems.
For example, using draft strips to block out cold air is an easy and cost-effective way to minimise your need for heating in colder weather. You can also look into environmentally friendly insulation methods, such as insulation panels made from natural materials.
Ensuring your pipes are properly cared for in freezing temperatures is another important but often overlooked consideration that could end up costing you hundreds to fix if they burst. For more information, check out our handy guide on how to deal with frozen pipes.
Keep a regular temperature
Ensure your classrooms are the right temperature and that you’re not wasting valuable energy on overheating or overcooling your space. According to the National Education Union, classrooms should be a minimum of 18 degrees Celsius and although there is no upper temperature limit, 24 degrees Celsius is a considered a good upper limit.
You could also consider loosening uniform restrictions to allow students to wear jumpers in colder weather and remove outer garments such as blazers in warmer weather, to help them regulate their own temperature more effectively, with less need for heating and cooling systems.
Avoid wasting energy on empty buildings
Schools are unique from many other buildings as they are closed for extended periods of time over school holidays and weekends. An easy but very effective way to cut down your energy usage is by making sure you are not inadvertently running up your bills with energy that you’re not even using. A great example of this is vending machines; by turning off vending machines overnight and during half term, you could save as much as £85 per machine, per year.
Keep classroom doors closed
Help your heating and cooling systems work more effectively by keeping doors closed where possible. This will help to trap heat in when you want to warm up and take the strain off the air conditioning when you want to cool down, as it will be working to regulate the temperature of a smaller space.
Have lessons outdoors
In the summer, older buildings often get hotter inside than outside. By taking some of your classes outdoors, not only can you keep students comfortable and cool, improving productivity, but you can also save some energy by switching off lights and computers when you leave the classroom.
Set school computers to sleep
A very simple but often forgotten way to improve the efficiency of your computers is to set them to sleep after a certain period of inactivity. This length of time can be decided by you, depending on how you use your devices. Sleep mode will put your devices in a low-power state and turn off the display when you’re not using it. For classrooms with multiple computers, setting all devices to sleep when not in use can save a surprising amount of energy.
Set your heating on a timer
This can be particularly useful in the winter months, if you want to make sure your students aren’t walking into a cold classroom first thing in the morning. By setting your heating to come on around one hour before people start arriving, you’ll give your building chance to warm up, without having to leave the heating on overnight.
Consider renewable energy solutions for your school
Switching to renewable energy is a popular option for many schools wanting to save energy and reduce their carbon footprints.
If you’re looking to install your own renewable energy infrastructure, this can be a costly investment, but will pay for itself in savings over time.
Installing solar panels is often considered to be a cost-effective way of generating your own energy, however, you will need to have enough roof space and be located in an area that gets a good amount of sunlight.
If you’re not quite ready to take on the task of generating your own energy, but you still want to go green, Yü Energy can help! We have a range of 100% renewable REGO-backed energy plans to choose from, so you can switch to greener energy, without the hassle of installing your own infrastructure.
How Can Schools Save Energy? Summary
There are lots of ways you can help your school save energy; some are quick switches, while others are long-term investments. By starting with an energy audit and developing a clear plan of action, you’ll be on the road to energy saving in no time.
Take the stress out of your energy bills, by switching to a specialist supplier who understands your school’s needs. At Yü Energy, we have a streamlined switching process and a range of tools to help you get the best deal for your energy and keep your costs low.