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Energy Saving Tips for School

  • Turn off all lights that are not needed for security
    In a typical school, lighting accounts for 30 percent of all electricity used.  Turning off lights is one of the simplest ways to save energy over a break – even just a long weekend – and everyone can get involved with helping flip the switches. Summer break can also be a good time to ensure all outside and security lights are correctly timed so that they only illuminate at night. Summer break can be a good time to change lamps and clean light fixtures to improve efficiency, or to install efficient LED exit signs.
  •  Eliminate Unneeded Cooling
    As with homes, heating and cooling typically demand the greatest use of energy in schools. With no one around to feel that cool air, it may be possible to shut off the air conditioner. If only a few rooms are being used during the summer months, try to contain these areas - the whole building does not need to be cooled.  Another idea is to set the cooling system to “economizer” mode at night to cycle in cool outside air. Thermostat temperature and cooling practices should ultimately be determined by the energy or facilities manager. 
  •  Turn off computers and other equipment
    The typical desktop computer has added a significant load to school energy budgets as new computer labs add many machines. Turned off over a 7-day break rather than being left in "active" on mode, one typical computer and monitor would save $2.70 on average in one week. While this may seem inconsequential, multiply that by 100 computers in a school, or 1,000 schools in a district and the savings add up quickly. Institute a policy to turn off monitors when not in use to extend savings throughout the year.
  • Remove or unplug all unused equipment
    A long break is a great time to take stock of the appliances that currently inhabit the school, and to get rid of ones that aren’t needed. Staff can be encouraged to take personal items, such as mini-fridges, microwaves, coffee makers, fans, and space heaters, home for the summer. Even if all of the appliances at your school are turned off, chances are that they are still drawing a small amount of energy. This "phantom load," while small (usually around 1-5 watts) for each individual appliance, can quickly add up.  Almost any product with an external power supply, remote control, continuous display (including an LED), or that charges batteries will draw power continuously. The best way to zap these loads is to plug your appliances into a power strip and cut the power with one flick of the strip to "OFF."
  • Maintenance, Repairs and Installation of Timers and Other Energy Saving Devices
    Summer break is the perfect opportunity to do a comprehensive cleaning and maintenance of school facilities. Cleaning fans, lights and refrigerator coils may seem inconsequential, but can have a significant effect on the efficiency and life of the device – even in a relatively clean environment such as a school, dirt and dust can reduce output from lamps by as much as 15 percent a year. Make sure to check for water leaks before summer break as well. Consider installing energy-saving devices to reduce energy consumption all year long. Window shades and window film reduce solar heat gain, and thus lower the cooling load during summer months. Timers that shut off equipment (e.g. lights, appliances, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters) when not in use are a great energy-savings investment. Consider turning down the water heater temperature; 130 degrees is a safe and comfortable level. In addition, energy control devices for vending machines average a savings of 50 percent. Changing five conventional vending machines to ENERGY STAR models with energy saving software typically saves a school around $900 per year!
  • More information can be found at the Alliance to Save Energy's Green Schools Web site.