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Energy saving in schools requires a positive attitude

With state schools facing higher staff and pension costs, alongside frozen budgets, it's time to cut the annual average energy bill, says TOTO Energy

Posted by Julian Owen | March 28, 2018 | Sustainability

The average school racks up a staggering £31,000 in energy costs every year. With over 24,000 schools attended by 8.2 million pupils in England alone, the energy bills in this country’s education sector are astoundingly high.

Research by Carbon Trust found that UK schools could save a combined £44 million per year in energy, which would prevent 625,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

There’s clearly a need for schools to become more energy-efficient. TOTO Energy looks at the benefits of schools developing a positive attitude towards energy saving, and the impact this would have on the country in the future.

Educate children

School is where students go to learn. Alongside traditional subjects like maths, English and science, it’s the ideal place to teach students real-life lessons that will be valuable in the future.

Start by educating pupils on the damage that the overuse of energy has on the environment, and then provide examples on how everyone – teachers and students – can help to save energy at school.

Go one step further and put this into practice, by actively carrying out energy-saving activities, helping students to learn by doing. You could even run a competition, where classes compete to be the most energy-efficient.

Having fun can quickly make attitudes positive towards saving energy, with everyone at school committed to achieving the same goal.

Educating children doesn’t just stop at school: information learnt on the importance of energy saving - and how they can help - will extend to their home and adult life, meaning they can continue to reap the benefits.

Save money

The actual rate of energy consumption will vary from school to school, depending on several factors: the age of the building, how well it’s insulated, the number of pupils, and how often technology is used. For instance, secondary schools will have more laptops and electronic whiteboards in use, so it’s likely that they’ll use more energy than primary schools.

Using less energy at school will help to drastically cut that average yearly bill. There’s no better time to start this, with state schools currently facing higher staff and pension costs, and frozen budgets.

Research into the education sector’s energy bills found that almost 50% of total costs were due to lighting, with many schools leaving lights on in rooms that weren’t in use.

It’s not just lighting where cuts can be made: turning off the heating for one hour a day can cut annual energy bills by 10%.

Similarly, if you properly insulate your school’s roof, then you can conserve an extra 25% of the heat, shaving costs off your bill. Neither of these tips will take up much time, but will save you a significant amount of money.

Help protect the environment

Fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas, used for heat and electricity, are running out. It’s been predicted that the world’s supply of coal will last for 114 years, and the lifespan of oil and gas supplies are just over 50 years.

Therefore, it’s crucial that schools – who use so much energy – develop a positive attitude towards energy saving, to help protect the environment.

This can be done in two ways: the first is by cutting down on excess use of heat and electricity, by implementing the tips mentioned above.

The other option is to start using renewable energy sources. The main benefit of sunlight, wind and waves as energy sources are that, unlike fossil fuels, they won’t run out.

Renewable energy sources can easily be incorporated into powering a school. For example, solar panels can be installed on the roof. Whilst the UK may not have enough sunlight to totally heat a building, it can contribute towards it. Plus, whilst there will be an initial outlay of installing the panels, the subsequent electricity produced is free, which will cut costs.

Another option is installing a wind turbine to generate electricity. This is particularly beneficial, as wind is one thing the UK doesn’t lack!

The properties and benefits of renewable energy sources are both great subjects to teach students. Ultimately, they will be the ones affected by a world with no oil and gas, so it’s crucial to educate pupils now.

To conclude, it’s imperative that attitudes in schools towards energy saving become more positive. The steps may be small, but the impact is huge. Saving money will particularly benefit schools, but protecting the environment and educating pupils will help them in the long term.

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