Analyse your school energy use - review heating timings

10 KS1 KS2 KS3 KS4 KS5

One of the easiest ways to save your school money and reduce its carbon footprint is to make sure you're only heating the school when it needs to be warm!  There is generally no need to fully heat schools on weekends or holidays if no one is in.

Gas is the most common energy source for heating in schools, although some schools use electricity or oil for heating. A gas boiler works by burning gas to heat up water, which is then pumped around the school to heat up the radiators.

Many schools have their heating coming on too early in the morning. Generally heating boilers shouldn’t be turning on before 5am in cold weather and 7am in milder weather. If your school heating comes on before this, you might be able to make changes to the heating controls to save energy and lots of money.

Energy Sparks assigns default open and closed times for your school.  Your adult Energy Champion can adjust these by going to Manage school/ Manage school times.


Have a look at the following two graphs of Energy Sparks school's gas consumption and see if you can answer the following questions.

Graph A.  L High School
L High School gas consumption

A1. When do you think people are in the school buildings?
A2. At what time(s) is gas consumption high (over £6)
A3. What is the boiler doing when the school is closed?
A4. Are there any questions you need to ask other people about this data (think about who is using the school and when)?
A5. Do you think this boiler is working effectively?  Why or why not?


Graph B.  SP Primary School

SP Primary School gas consumption



B1. When do you think people are in the school buildings?
B2. At what time(s) is gas consumption high (over £6)
B3. What is the boiler doing when the school is closed?
B4. Are there any questions you need to ask other people about this data (think about who is using the school and when)?
B5. Do you think this boiler is working effectively?  Why or why not?


C1. Which school has a better heating management system? 
C2. If you were an Energy Analyst, what recommendations would you make for L High school. 
C3. Could you make any recommendations for SP Primary School?

Now that you've analysed the heating timings for an Energy Sparks school, you may want to talk to your caretaker about making some changes to your school's heating.


* Degree days (the black line) is a measure of how much the boiler has to work to maintain a suitable temperature.  It's a bit like a reverse temperature.  The lower the degree day reading, the warmer the temperature at that time.

Advanced knowledge 

Most larger schools have a feature of the boiler controller called ‘optimum start control’ which automatically turns the boiler on earlier in the day in cold weather and later in warmer weather. However, at many schools this automation doesn’t work properly, and turns the boiler on too early. The most common cause is if the boiler thermostat  is positioned in a cold area of the school such as the school hall or a corridor. The boiler thermostat tells the boiler the temperature of the school.  If the thermostat is in an area which doesn't have enough radiators or is near a door which is often open, then the thermostat never gets up to the heating set temperature. This means it tells the heating to come on earlier and earlier in the morning, while the classrooms get hotter and hotter. You could ask your school caretaker to try moving the boiler thermostat to another area of the school or to set the thermostat to a lower temperature. 

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