Schools, whether they be colleges or elementary schools, are consuming energy 24/7. The costs of lighting, heating & cooling, powering electronics, and other necessities add up extremely quickly. Even at night when students and teachers are home, the building is consuming electricity to ensure that it’s ready for the next school day.
If you’re a school administrator or other educational official, looking to cut on costs by saving energy at school, it might seem like a daunting task. How to save energy is a simple question with a complex answer.
But, there are steps you can take to cut back on energy consumption. We’ve outlined 15 different ways to tackle this problem. Some of them are more simple, like take advantage of natural light, while others are more complicated.
The new school year is just starting to ramp up, so now is a great time to implement changes that are just as good for the environment as they are for your wallet.
1. Switch to LEDs for Lighting in Your School
We are a LED lighting company and this will be our first obvious advice. However, we don’t do this for mere promotional reasons. This option will surely have some higher initial costing but the results will be more than worth it.
The classrooms and hallways of school buildings are mostly lit with fluorescent bulbs. These lights undoubtedly used to be the most effective ones until the LED technology was rolled out in the markets that changed everything.
You will be able to save around 30% of the total energy consumption by simply shifting to LED light fixtures. These are the saving estimate just for the school indoors. A full makeover with LED lights can help you save up to 75% on your power bills.
You may find the initial cost of LED conversion to be a little higher but be assured, all the investment will recoup faster than expected. LEDs have many advantages including low energy consumption, longer life, zero maintenance requirements, and need no replacement.
Another bonus point is the huge rebates that certain LED companies offer. Different companies offer a different amount of rebated and incentives and you must check for that with your company. However, rebates are common with LED companies these days.
You can save around $1674 to $7254 every year as per the cost of electricity in your area. The below chart is built around the savings made in a school gym that has undergone the LED conversion. Let’s say the run hours of the gym are 12 hours every 5 days of the week.
How to convert to LED Lights in the Gym – Three Steps
1. Gather all the information
If you sign up for our services, we assess all the needs of your current gym. This assessment plays a crucial role in making the newer solution successful for the current settings.
2. Make a gymnasium lighting plan
A lighting plan includes the study of the light level expectations and a view of how the lighting will turn out in reality. The best part, you can get this lighting plan from us without any cost at all. It’s a “see before you spend” deal.
3. Review the lighting plan and quote
Check it out! See if the gym is efficiently and expectedly lit. See if the light is reaching out to all the corners evenly. The lighting process of the LED Lighting Supply is fully risk-free and will work great for you just like it did for all customers.
Gym School using Fluorescent Fixtures
Gym School after converting to LED Lighting Supply 120W UFO LED High Bays
2. Use Occupancy Sensors
Some of the other parts of a school building continue to be in use at different parts of the day but that doesn’t mean every part needs equal lighting. You can turn off the lights in spaces like empty classrooms, hallways, closets, labs, etc.
You can take a step ahead in energy saving with the occupancy sensors. Fixing these sensors with the lights make them more efficient but automating the light usage as per the activity levels in the surrounding. Install the sensors and relax! You would be free from checking the lights constantly as the sensors would be doing the job now.
Thus, occupancy sensors carry out the biggest task in the energy-saving routine that is turning the lights off when not in use. There is no surety ever that you can be extremely cautious about manually switching the lights off.
Now for the lights that can’t be paired with occupancy sensors or need manual handling only, you can devise staff to handle them. A great way to seek help for the methods of efficiently saving energy is to write emails to the concerned people. This will go a long way in making people help you save energy.
3. Get an Energy Management System
Energy management systems like timers and thermostat controls are an efficient help in making the cooling and heating systems of school buildings perform optimally. It usually happens that the temperature control systems are left working even when the schools are shut down as no one is there to manually control them.
You can set the run time of these amenities with the energy management system. This way, you will be saving money by cutting on unnecessary power usage along with keeping the school building ready for other times too.
4. Keep the Furnace Filters Clean
There are other ways of saving on energy used by the cooling and heating systems that can help you to cut the power bill costs too. In most of the school buildings that were built previously, furnaces were used for heating the rooms during winters.
The unclean filters of any appliance can prove detrimental to its overall efficiency. The damage is higher in the case of furnaces whose output gets reduced due to dirty filters.
However, there is an easy way out of this. The US Department of Energy says you can improve the efficiency of your furnace by over 15% by regularly cleaning the filters. Isn’t that a big deal? All you need to do for that is make a schedule for furnace cleaning, give it to the maintenance staff to follow, and observe the results.
5. Check the Dorms Too
You may think that dorms shouldn’t be a problem as they rarely exist only in the boarding schools or universities but their importance isn’t any less.
There are high chances that the residents of dormitories aren’t following or not even aware of the energy-saving practices. Saving energy would probably be the last thing on their minds after all the school work.
However, you can help out these dormitory residents in saving energy in a plethora of other ways. One of these ways is related to the occupancy sensors. This control system proves very helpful for the areas that don’t need lighting all the time like bathrooms and hallways. Get better with conservation through water-saving toilets and sinks. Nonetheless, personal participation of the dormitory residents will make everything better. Make them more aware for the best results!
6. Control Computer Screens for Energy Saving
Screens are an inevitable part of schools these days. The information flow that these screens like PCs facilitate is invaluable but their downside of high energy consumption cannot be ignored as well. There is practically no way out from this. Is that the case?
For starters, you can seek help from the students and staff to make sure that the PCs are shut down when the day is over. Additionally, they can put them in the Sleep mode when not using them for the time. The Sleep mode works better for the computers than the screen saver as it puts the whole CPU process to rest and help energy saving.
At the same time, you can take your step toward boosting efficiency by purchasing the Energy Star rating computers. This can be easily done while upgrading the computer labs, replacing the damaged monitors, or even building a new lab.
7. Give Responsibility to Students
While discussing the energy-saving methods for dormitories above, we established the fact that the best effort comes from the personal participation of the dormitory residents. You can be innovative and assign the responsibility to Energy Monitors. These students will be in charge of spreading awareness on energy saving and take direct action.
Students will show a willingness to coordinate with your efforts if you will involve them. They might also come up with new ideas for the purpose. Devise an energy efficiency task force involving selected students from all grades who will give their suggestions.
Additionally, you can hand out energy conservation activities to classes. All of this may seem like a task but real people are participating here and that increases the success rates.
8. Get Better Insulation in Your Buildings
We have already discussed above how temperature control systems consume a great amount of energy. We also discussed certain methods to deal with the issue. Heat reflection is a very obvious process but you could be losing more heat due to poor insulation facility that can be around 2/3 of your HVAC or furnace heating. Here, improved insulation can lead to about 40% savings.
Higher costs are obvious while changing the insulation facility of school buildings. However, if you are starting with the LED lights, then you will see the benefits to be more weighing than the investment. Also, you don’t need to rush with the process. Go for the LED conversion just in the gym and cafeteria and see the dramatic change that occurs.
9. Upgrade the Bathrooms
A huge energy drain happens in bathrooms too. Unnecessary wastage of light along with frequent usage of water in the sinks and toilet flushes casts a negative impact on the environment too. The changes need to be made here too and you must think about installing water-saving toilets and sinks too. You will save a lot on the bills and utility costs.
Energy saver hand dryers are also a good option to check out. These dryers have very low maintenance needs and save a lot of energy as well. Paper towels are not only an outdated option but also harmful to the environment and budget. You need to maintain the supply of paper towels to the toilets always and that only increases the bills fast.
However, such modifications can come with huge initial costs. You can try other measures to avoid that. The idea is to keep the appliances in good working condition to save energy and that can be achieved with repairing too. Keep the toilets and leaky faucets repaired.
10. Conduct a Building Commission
This is one of the very effective ways to start with energy saving in school which involves building commissioning done by a certified professional. This is a proactive process that requires expertise. Building commissioning is the detailed inspection and assessment of the building systems to ensure their synchronized and efficient working.
Thus, it would be better for you to focus on the performances of your systems rather than constantly retrofitting newer machines into the settings and expect better output.
This method is going to reveal the rare issues that may have been plaguing your systems and increasing their energy consumption. We strongly recommend you get building commissioning done.
11. Utilize natural light more
We have been discussing the various ways energy is consumed by the different school building systems and what are the ways to save that consumption. We saw how things like motion sensors, energy management systems, etc. prove helpful for the purpose.
However, have you been not thinking to cash the most powerful source of light available, the sun?
Think about that and start promoting the students to utilize natural light as much as possible. This will save your money, increase student productivity, and save them from health issues.
You can start with letting the sunlight in classrooms by opening the blinds. It will be even better for the classroom lights with dimming controls as the light will get adjusted accordingly and save energy too. However, this method is going to prove energy-saving anyway since natural light will cost you nothing and lit up the whole environment naturally.
12. Be Conservative With Heating
We have already discussed in length the burden a heating system is on energy resources. However, there are plenty of ways you can save on the costs related to your heating systems.
One of the ways to start with is to go about selective space heating. This means that you should heat only the deserving spaces like classrooms but not the hallways.
Hallways are mostly in the interiors which makes them immune from the harsh weather conditions outside like temperature fluctuations. On the other hand, classrooms need to be kept comfortable with warm temperatures which anyways make the temperature of the hallways better.
The further benefit of this is no heat loss upon the closing and opening of the hallway external doors frequently. However, you must remember that to make this method successful, you also need to instruct the faculty to keep the classroom doors shut or the heat will keep flowing out.
13. Check the heating levels
You may have seen that windows are opened quite commonly to moderate down the excessively heated classrooms. Well, this is a bad step that only increases the work of the heating system and it starts consuming deficit energy.
To deal with this, check the room temperature and keep adjusting the thermometer accordingly for being able to maintain the right room temperature and also not waste energy unconsciously.
14. Promote recycling in school
This is an indirect but effective method of saving school energy where the focus is on the energy that is consumed in the production of materials. The first step to making recycling possible at school is to make the opportunities readily available.
There must be a recycle bin next to every trash bin or else the recycling material is going to land in the trash bin ultimately because the people won’t care much to find the right place to dump their unused items.
You are going to succeed with your energy-saving and cost-saving efforts only by encouraging the stakeholders about it and also making it possible for them easily. Keep the labeling appropriate on the recycle bins or the people would remain ignorant to it.
15. Focus on solar power generation
Sometimes, we need to think out of the box to deal with the simplest of issues. This creative thinking is required here too. How about not having the energy costs exist at all? You must be probably thinking that we are blabbering now. Let us say, what about going solar?
We are talking about the solar panels that have been designed to save the planet. The prime idea is that energy consumption is inevitable and this will only rise no matter how much you try against it. Similar is the case with school buildings that need huge energy to keep functioning every day.
The initial cost of solar conversion is, nonetheless, going to be high. However, you can still try to make it affordable. This can be done with the rebates offered by various power companies often that make the conversion a good option. Once you switch to solar energy, you will observe the immediate effect on your power bills. Solar energy generates a positive ROI for all the facilities and saves resources too.
Save to make your school better
Energy-saving is not all about money-saving but there are plenty of other benefits that come out of it. Saving at one place, like power consumption, will allow you to use that money for other purposes related to school maintenance, and the result will be a better environment for everyone.
We have given you all the tried and tested methods above. Schools all around the country are abiding by the energy-saving measures to follow sustainability, cut energy costs, and build a positive educational environment for all the generations of students in the future.
You may find some of these methods to be difficult. This is related to the high costs certain methods come with. However, you must remain focused on the results rather than the beginning.
The right way to go about all of this is to invest in methods that may look expensive in the beginning but will help you have tenfold savings later. That is going to be worth it. You can start with the minor changes and then go with the bigger ones. Stay focused on cutting energy consumption that will ultimately bring savings.