As children return to classrooms across the UK (and much of the world), we've identified 10 easy ways schools can reduce their energy consumption and running costs this year - at little or no cost.
Strategies like these do more than extend budgets: they also contribute to creating a more sustainable learning environment.
- Establish an energy team: Form a dedicated team of teachers, caretakers, and pupils to devise a long-term plan for energy efficiency. This team should conduct an audit of the school's facilities, focusing on areas of significant energy use such as lighting, heating, computing, and catering.
- Monitor temperature settings: Ensure all heating and cooling controls are set to the most efficient temperatures. The recommended temperature for classrooms is 18°C.
- Use time switches: Time switches and lighting controls can be deployed to reduce the costs of external lighting. They can also be used to control water boilers and vending machines.
- Turn off vending machines: Switch off vending machines dispensing non-perishable items when the school day ends. This could be automated with a seven-day time switch. It costs approximately £120 per year to keep these machines running constantly, but by switching them off out of hours, you could save up to £85 every year.
- Switch off monitors and computers: These consume a lot of energy when switched on but not in use. Avoid this by setting all computers in the school to activate 'hibernate mode' after 10 minutes of non-use. Encourage staff and students to manually turn off the monitors when they are not being used.
- Utilise natural light: Use natural light instead of classroom lights whenever possible. Studies have shown that students are more productive when working in natural daylight.
- Turn off the lights: Implement a policy of reminding staff and pupils to turn off lights when they leave a room. This could cut lighting costs by up to 15%.
- Use energy-saving lights: LED lights use up to 85% less energy than traditional bulbs. They improve the quality of light and last far longer than older types.
- Switch off appliances during holidays: Ensure that electrical devices and appliances are turned off throughout the holiday times. Many devices in standby mode continue to consume electricity.
- Check your tariff: Check that your school is on a tariff package that is best suited to your energy usage. You can make significant savings by switching either to a different package offered by your supplier or by choosing a new utility company.