Pupils carry out a spot check of classroom temperatures

5 Investigating energy usage KS1, KS2

You will need a thermometer to be able to complete this task. 

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 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? 

The best temperatures for schools are: 
  • Normal classrooms: 18°C
  • Corridors: 15°C
  • Areas with high levels of activity (e.g. sports halls): 15°C
  • Areas with low levels of activity: 21°C
  • Special needs schools or areas with very young children: 21°C
Ask your teacher for a thermometer and measure the temperature in your classroom. Is it too hot or too cold, or about right? If it is too hot or too cold, ask your teacher if you can adjust the temperature. If you have a dial on the wall (thermostat) turn it up if the room is too cold and down if it is too hot. You may have to wait for up to an hour for the temperature to change.

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 – it’s a good idea to ask the caretaker to check all the valves are working correctly in the school.

Once you have worked out how to control the temperature in your classroom, you could plan to do this for the whole school, but you might need some help and do some planning!
You can use this form Click here to record the temperatures in your school.

For KS2 children, you can also do some maths for work out how much you might save the school by turning the temperature down. For every 1C you reduce the temperature you save the school about 10% of its heating costs. An average primary school uses about £5,000 of gas per year. Try to work out how much you might save, if you reduced the temperature in your school by 2C?

Other activities, and learning you might consider includes:
• Watch this 5 minute video about saving energy at home (Click here)
• Learning about heat; conduction, convection and radiation via this BBC video (Click here
• Asking the caretaker to explain how the school is heated (do you have a gas boiler?) 
• Asking the school administrator or head teacher how much the school spends on heating each year? 
Interesting facts: 
• wearing a jumper in the winter will save lots of energy and money as you will need less heating
• 30% of the energy we use in the UK is used for heating, most of which uses gas (30% is electricity, and 30% petrol for transport) 
• about 50% of the energy used in schools is used for heating and hot water

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