Most schools currently use over 50% of their energy consumption out of school hours, in the evenings, weekends and school holidays. Arrange an interview with the caretaker or building manager to improve heating controls to cut waste during these times.
Generally, schools consume energy for heating out of hours for 3 reasons:
- Overly pessimistic or faulty frost protection. It is recommended that frost protection settings at all schools are reviewed reducing weekend and holiday demand. Depending on school's insulation levels, an internal setting of 8C is recommended with an outside temperature setting of 4°C where relevant.
- They lack a 7 day timer, so it is not possible to turn the heating/hot water off at weekends. Many schools still have 24 hours timers for boilers, storage radiators or hot water heaters. This means they are using 14% more energy than necessary. Another common problem is that after power cuts these timers often get out of sync with real-time, and are not corrected. It is recommended that all 24 hours timers are replaced with 7 day timers and that the settings of these timers are reviewed at least once per year to ensure that have not become out of sync as a result of power cuts or accidental adjustments.
- Mis-configured boiler settings. Remember to reset controls to their normal positions after special evening or weekend use.
Approximately, 17% of energy is used in the school holidays. This is a combination of:
- Frost protection (as above)
- Heating left on for legitimate reasons, but generally only for partial occupancy for 1 or 2 staff members. Where zone controls are fitted only heat those zones that are occupied and need heating in the school holidays. Consider using electric fan heaters for offices occupied in the school holidays rather than heating the whole school.
- Heating left on accidentally, because staff don't know how to work the controls, or forget to switch it off. Many school boiler controllers allow the programming of a year's worth of holidays in advance. Where possible this should be programmed at the start of the school year. Otherwise, ask your caretaker to switch off heating manually, except frost protection, at the end of term.
- Hot water heating left running. Ask your caretaker to switch off your hot water boilers or tanks. They may need to remember to check in toilets, kitchens, and washing-up areas for individual hot water tanks if you don't have a centralised hot water system.
Make sure you follow up on any actions agreed and check the Energy Sparks data for your school to see if they have helped to cut energy use.