While the electricity bill is often treated as an unchangeable portion of school expenses, the fact is that most schools have considerable room for improvement and savings.
This addressable energy waste could be due to inefficient student/staff behaviour, incorrect settings, and/or lack of maintenance. The good news is that there are many opportunities to save energy without investing in equipment upgrades.
All you need is an energy management system for schools to ensure continuous and effective implementation of energy conservation measures.
This article outlines the best practice in behaviour-based energy conservation. You will read about these four steps to reap the low-hanging fruit and reduce school energy costs:
The electricity bill is often treated as an unchangeable portion of school expenses. But the fact is that most schools have considerable room for improvement and savings. This addressable energy waste could be due to inefficient student/staff behaviour, incorrect settings, or lack of maintenance. The good news is that there are many opportunities to save energy without investing in equipment upgrades. All you need is an energy management system to ensure continuous and effective implementation of energy conservation measures.
This e-book outlines the best practice in behaviour-based energy conservation. Follow these four steps to reap the low-hanging fruit and reduce school energy costs!
You don’t need to turn on all equipment at all times. Try to reduce the school’s energy demand with these tips:
Think twice before turning on the switch
Every time someone enters a room, he / she may turn on all the light and AC switches by the door side without even thinking about whether they need it or not. Encourage students and staff to think twice before turning the switch. They should only turn on necessary electrical equipment to minimize energy wastage.
If the temperature is not too hot, try using alternative ways to keep cool. Set a policy or system limit where students and staff can turn on the AC only when temperature rises above a set point.
Make Use of Natural Daylight
Utilizing natural daylight is an important way to lower lighting energy. Use the following tips to capture daylight while avoiding the glare and heat from the sun. This prevents both discomfort and increase in cooling load.
Remove a tube
Over-lighting is a common scene happened in offices and classroom. While the optimal lux level for comfort and sufficient brightness is just around 400 – 500 lux, many areas of your school could be over designed. Ask students to take a walk around the school to look for over-lit areas, and you can remove unnecessary light tubes to save energy!
Air-conditioning consumes 50% of the energy used in the whole school. If you can manage AC energy well, you’re already half done.
[Tie a ribbon to the vent of each aircon unit / diffuser so you can visually tell if it is actually turned on or off.]
Lighting is the second largest electricity end-use in schools, with considerable room for improvement. Here are a few strategies you may consider:
Computers and Equipment
To keep up with the latest education technology, schools are constantly adding more electrical devices across the board. ICT and audio-visual equipment are the major energy users, so there are good opportunities for cutting costs and making energy savings by targeting these.
See the tips below:
Typical Energy Consumption for Different ICT Equipment
If your school has a swimming pool, then it should be a top concern for energy management. The pool is often used for a few hours a day but requires constant heating and cooling and ventilation. Good operation management will reduce energy usage.
When the pool is not being used, cover the pool with a plastic sheet or thermal blanket can reduce the need for water heating and pool hall ventilation. This will also reduce the amount of make-up water required due to evaporation loss.
(1) U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. (2011).Swimming Pool Covers. Retrieved 1 June, 2012, from http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13140;
(2) California Urban Water Conservation Council. (2009). H2ouse Water Saver Home.Pool & Spa. Retrieved 1 June, 2012, from http://www.h2ouse.org/tour/details/element_actions.cfm?elementID=D21ACAE2- 1FC4-41D0-BC9A16B993ED790A&roomID=32ABD0B1-B424-4AF0-
Backwashing pool filters is a very expensive process in terms of both water and energy. By setting appropriate backwash schedules based on the pressure drop across the filter, you can reduce unnecessary energy consumed.
Lowering water temperature can reduce the evaporation rate, thus reducing the need for air ventilation to control humidity.
Turn off after use
This is by far the simplest energy saving measure, but it’s easier said than done. People often tend to keep things running in case another person will use them later. Someone may think that turning lights on and off frequently will waste more energy than it saves. But the truth is that turning off lights for 5 minutes or more is already more efficient than keeping it on. Whenever you finish using a room or leave the room for more than a few minutes, make sure you turn off all appliances and equipment.
Here are some specific actions students and staff can do together:
Energy Saving Rules
Unplug all power source after school and before weekends and holidays
Electronic devices can still consume 5-10% of their normal energy consumption when turned off. Equipment in standby mode will also heat up the space and cause more air conditioning energy use the next day. Make sure you unplug all unnecessary electronics (such as computers, laptops, printers, TVs, smartboards, iPads, and projectors) and appliances (such as microwaves & tea kettles) at the end of each day.
Here are a few tips to help students and staff do this easily:
Label each socket by the name of the equipment it connects. This lets everybody know their uses clearly and avoid powering off essential ones by mistake.
Place the power strip where you can easily reach, for instance, place it on or attached to the side of the desk rather than under the desk. When people can easily see something is on, it motivates them to turn it off.
Set equipment to turn off automatically using timers or smart device
With hundreds of different electrical devices in the school, it can be overwhelming and inefficient to ensure every single piece of equipment is switched off. A simple plug-in timer can set equipment to switch off and on automatically at different pre-set times. Alternatively, a smart power strip can help to cut off the power from specific sockets when the device is switched off. The top priority for this type of control is large equipment such as copiers, water coolers, laptop chargers, and vending machines. These measures will save you time and effort.
A number of energy efficiency measures can be carried out as part of routine maintenance procedures at no extra cost.
Clogged, dirty filters block normal airflow and reduce a system’s efficiency significantly. Replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one can reduce your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5% to 15%.
Refrigerators and freezers operate 24/7 and contribute significant energy consumption in a building. Regular checking, maintenance and good user habits can help to maximize its efficiency with no cost. Here are a few actions you can take:
There are many easy options to help you save energy and improve school operations. But the key to ensuring solid results is to track your actual energy consumption and verify savings after these actions are made. You may choose to monitor it manually by reading the utility meter, but the best approach is to deploy an energy management system.
This system can automatically collect your energy data and consolidate it into intuitive charts. With the right software and analysis, you can easily find the answers to your questions about the school’s energy profile. “How much energy is used on an average morning?” “Where are we wasting energy?” The answers are but a few clicks away.