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New school year energy action plan

What is happening with energy prices?

The seismic shocks to the energy market experienced earlier this year show no signs of abating, putting severe strain on school budgets. Wholesale electricity prices are over 500% higher and Gas over 600% higher than this time last year which is directly impacting the price schools are paying for energy.

So far the Government has resisted calls for financial support to help offset this unexpected increase to operating costs. Until and unless this changes, the only option is for schools and trusts to take action to mitigate the effect of energy inflation.

Scope for saving

Although this presents a huge challenge for schools and trusts, the evidence shows that there is significant scope for reducing consumption across the school estate. Based on a recent survey, Barker discovered that around 60% of the energy consumed at a typical school is when there are no students in the building.

Based on our analysis of 350 of the largest trusts in the UK representing 5200 schools, eliminating the gas use whilst schools are closed (24%) would save £45million. Halving the non-open element (30%) of electricity consumption would save £96 million.

For a typical primary school in 2022-2023 with a utility bill between £80-120,000 a saving of £20-30,000 should be achievable.

For a typical secondary school with a utility bill between £300,000-£400,000 a saving of £70-100,000 should be achievable.

What can be done? Quick wins and housekeeping.

Schools looking for quick, low-cost initiatives to save money should consider the following:

1.Understand your energy data – getting a thorough understanding of your current consumption costs little but can help with effective procurement, inform target setting, identify opportunities for saving and help engage building occupants to make behavioural changes.

2. Optimise controls and programmers – ensuring time clocks and controls match operational use. Look at putting new or improved controls on equipment such as sandwich fridges and water heaters.

3. Temperature settings – review setting on boilers, air conditioning units, local programmers and states and minimise the use of temporary heating where possible. If your school has a Building Management System (BMS) this may be outside the capabilities of site staff and you may need a qualified engineer but this is often money well spent to ensure systems are running efficiently.

Download Form | Energy Saving/Shutdown Checklist
  • Energy Saving/Shutdown Checklist

4. IT equipment – Ensure all IT equipment is switched off when not in use (not just put in standby mode) and server/hub rooms are not set below 24degrees C

5. Lighting – ensure everything is switched off when not in use. Consider a review of operational hours for sports hall and external lighting.

6. Commercial/community use – where spaces are let out, review the rates charged to reflect the uplift in energy prices.

Next steps

You can view a recording of our webinar on energy saving and housekeeping WATCH HERE


You may also be interested in our blog post Energy & Sustainability Advice For Schools And Trusts where we looked at longer term solutions and large scale programmes that can drive further savings.

You can download a copy of our energy saving/shutdown checklist by filling out the form below.

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