Equipment needed A thermometer and recording sheet. You can use this form to record the temperatures in your school.
Why are we doing this? Getting the temperature right in the classroom is important; too hot and everyone falls asleep and doesn’t learn, too cold and we shiver, and must put extra jumpers on.
A hot classroom is also expensive as more heating is needed, and heating costs money. The best temperature for schools is 18°C, but corridors and sports halls can be 15°C. If some areas of your school are hotter than this, you are wasting energy and could save energy by turning down the heating. For every 1°C you reduce the temperature, you save the school about 10% of its heating costs. This could save some schools £1000s each year.
How to carry out this activity This activity needs to be carried out when your school heating is running. For most schools this is from October to April. To get a good measurement of the overall temperature in the classroom, you should put the thermometer away from any radiators or heaters, spotlights, electrical equipment like whiteboards or computers, air conditioning vents, windows, outside walls and direct sunlight. You should be careful not to hold the thermometer while taking your measurement as your body heat will warm the thermometer. The best way to measure the temperature is to put the thermometer down on a table or shelf, and wait until the temperature reading stops changing. Write this number down on the recording sheet. You may find that the temperature in the school increases during the day as the school warms up from the heating and hot bodies in the classrooms. You could try recording temperatures in the morning, at lunchtime and in the afternoon to see how the temperature changes across the day.
What to do next
The temperature in a classroom is normally controlled by a thermostat on the wall where you can set the temperature of the classroom, or by thermostatic radiator valves which are connected to each radiator. Look around the room you are in and see if you can spot how the temperature in a classroom is controlled – is there a dial for the temperature on the wall, or is the temperature controlled by each radiator?
If the radiator valves control the temperature, the valve is normally numbered, a bigger number means a higher temperature, a smaller number a lower temperature. Sometimes these valves become stuck, so if you can’t turn them easily then ask your teacher to help. Sometimes they are broken and stop controlling the temperature. If it is broken or missing ask your caretaker to fix it.
If the classroom is too hot, ask your teacher if you can adjust the temperature, using the thermostat or radiator control valve. You may have to wait for up to an hour for the temperature to change.
Now check your temperature recording sheet, can you go into all the rooms which are too hot and reduce the temperature on the thermostat or turn down the radiator.
Some schools have no temperature control in the classrooms, if this is your school, please talk to your caretaker, teacher or head teacher about turning down the main heating thermostat.
Sometimes teachers are worried about turning down thermostats in case everyone feels cold. You could agree to reduce the thermostat by 1°C first, or turn the radiator valve down by one number, and then continue to check temperatures and pupil and staff comfort levels. Ask them whether they feel too hot or cold or just right. If they feel hot or comfortable, you could try reducing the temperature a little more.
How the Energy Sparks data can help you with this activity If you turn down thermostats remember to check the Energy Sparks charts to see if your school's energy use has decreased. You should be able to work out how much energy and money you've saved. Remember to tell other pupils and teachers about the difference you've made.