“How to save energy at school?” is a simple question with a complex answer. Most schools use a lot of electricity to ensure the facility is safe, secure, comfortable and conducive to learning for students. Everything from lighting to climate control adds to the electrical expenses related to running a school.
Teachers can look at energy-saving efforts in school as an option to work with students. The children in class can help come up with innovative ideas to save electricity at school. Getting children involved in energy-saving processes at a young age encourages responsibility and jump starts a lifetime of environmental consciousness.
A new school year tends to bring a lot of excitement and energy as teachers and students prepare for the year ahead. Make this the most exciting and energy-efficient year yet by taking these 14 tips to the classroom.
Here are 14 things you can do to save energy at school
1. Take advantage of natural sunlight
Schools about to be built or those facing rehabilitation or remodeling can include design features that maximize the use of natural light. Adding blinds or other window fixtures in classrooms can allow teachers to reduce glare while trading electrical light for natural sunlight.
You may even want to consider the inclusion of skylights. Adding skylights in hallways, bathrooms, and other common areas can reduce your need for artificial lighting. They can allow filtered light to enter from above, taking advantage of strong solar exposure areas to reduce overall power consumption.
Natural sunlight will create a more relaxed learning environment compared to the harsh overhead lights that are normally in classrooms. Studies have also shown that natural light keeps people more focused and alert and improves their mood. Plus, keeping the lights off will keep the room cooler during the September heat.
2. Switch Over to LEDs or CFLs
One of the best tips on how to save electricity at school is a practice you probably already use at home. Replace all of those incandescent bulbs and standard fluorescent lights with more efficient options. Lights will run all day at the school, making them one of the most significant expenses related to powering a school. Standard lights can also produce a lot of heat, increasing cooling costs as well.
Compact Fluorescent Lights or CFLs can work in fluorescent sockets or even standard screw-base sockets. CFLs last longer than standard incandescent bulbs and cost a fraction of the price to run. However, with mercury inside, they create some other issues if someone breaks one. They also burn out quickly when regularly turned on and off.
Modern LED bulbs can offer a powerful option for lighting at a fraction of the electrical cost. Modern advances in the diodes used in these bulbs allow for more affordable light bulb production, making them more cost-effective at the time of purchase. As an added bonus, some options allow you to control the color of the light and change it at will.
3. Invest in energy-saving power strips
Keep classroom computers and other devices plugged into power strips to help mitigate their stand-by power usage. Not only will this help save power on a day-to-day basis, it will also make it easier to unplug all the devices during long holiday breaks.
4. Change Televisions to Flat and LCD Screens
Light bulbs aren’t the only fixture that can help you reduce school energy uses. Another consideration when you’re learning is the power used for television screens and computer monitors. Schools depend on screens for writing and viewing educational materials. Older, larger televisions use substantially more electricity than smaller, modern screens.
CRT units use the most power of popular screen styles, while LCD screens use less power, often less than half or a third of the amount of a comparably sized CRT screen. An LED screen may use even less than that. Plasma screens are the only newer option that may be less efficient. Most flat screen options will help your school save money.
5. Invest in Better Cooling Options
Running an industrial air conditioner to keep the school cool can cost a lot of money. It takes a huge amount of electricity to offset the cost of eliminating the heat produced by both machinery and hundreds of human bodies during warm weather. Upgrading to a more efficient cooling option could be a good decision. That may be one way to reduce school electricity use that can actually pay for itself.
Beyond air conditioning, limiting the use of power-sucking cooling options is always wise. Maintain or repair windows so that they can open to provide ventilation. Invest in ceiling fans and window fans to keep air moving in classrooms on days where heat is higher but not overwhelming.
6. Encourage Students to Recycle
Most students know what is and isn’t recyclable, but don’t always act on that knowledge. Encourage kids to do their part by creating a point system for recyclers, or assign extra credit projects focused on recycling and environmental impact.
7. Use Sensors for Turning Lights On or Off In a Room
There are many spaces in a school, like bathrooms, that only see occasional use. However, for student safety, many schools leave the lights on in these rooms the entire time school is in session. If you’re wondering how to save electricity at school, you may need to invest in motion sensors.
These inexpensive units can turn lights on and off in spaces you don’t much use. They will trigger lighting when someone enters and automatically turn the lights back off when there’s no movement for some time, indicating that the room is now empty.
Upgrading to more efficient gadgets and systems is only half of how to save electricity at school. Your staff, teachers, administrators, and students can all change and adjust their daily practices a little bit to reduce power use. Small changes over time can add up to big savings for the school budget and the planet.
8. Consider Upgrading the Kitchen
When it comes to how to save energy at school, upgrading your cafeteria kitchen is almost always a great idea. Older ovens and microwaves, as well as refrigerators and freezers, use a lot more electricity to run than newer, energy-efficient models. Convection ovens and air fryers, for example, can create healthier foods compared to fried options while also using less power for cooking.
Despite only being used for a portion of the day, the cafeteria kitchen can be a major source of energy use. Investing in better appliances, efficient lights, and even timers for lighting, can all help reduce the overall costs of providing your students with foods.
9. Have Class in the Grass
Escape the confines of the classroom by taking the class outside. Older school buildings are sometimes warmer inside on hot days than the temperature is outside. Keep kids from wilting in the warmth by creating an engaging outdoor classroom using dry erase boards or clipboards.
10. Keep Doors to Different Areas Closed
Keeping doors to other spaces closed during school hours is a good practice. First of all, closed and locked doors offer more security. They could make all the difference in a situation that places students in danger, such as an attack by an active shooter. Closed doors can also limit thermal loss into unused rooms and even the hallways between classrooms.
When you’re paying to cool classrooms, you want to keep that cold air where the students are actually studying, not in the empty hallways. Keeping each room closed, including those in use and those not currently utilized, can help you reduce power consumption related to keeping the students cool.
11. Consider Changing Your Electricity Provider
While deregulation of energy providers may have increased some consumer costs, it has also opened up the possibility of seeking a new provider for your energy needs. You will have the option to select your power provider. After years of electricity being a public utility, it’s finally privatized, allowing for competition and better pricing for consumers. There may be several lower power companies near you.
Unlike individual customers, schools have a major electrical footprint, meaning that power companies typically want to seek and maintain them to increase their profits. Take advantage of deregulation in Texas by looking at pricing options from many different providers.
12. Assign Classroom Jobs
Help make energy-efficiency a habit by assigning jobs to your students. Some examples include an electrician, who is in charge of turning lights on and off, or IT, who can help with classroom computers and other electronics. By giving students extra responsibilities in the classroom, they can take energy savings into their own hands and carry those lessons over at home.
13. Turn Off Lights and All Screens
Too many schools leave lights on for hours after class. Teachers may leave their individual computers, as well as entire computer labs worth of desktops, running overnight and over the weekend. Taking the time to power down these computers each afternoon (and especially on Fridays and before holidays) can do a lot to reduce your power usage.
14. Close Unused Rooms and Spaces
If you don’t have gym today and won’t host any team sports practices, why are you paying for cooling and lighting the gym? While you may not like the way that closed doors make a space feel, they can certainly do a lot for improving your energy efficiency.
The bigger the space, the more energy you use to light it up and regulate the temperature in the room. Closing off certain rooms by shutting doors and closing vents for the cooling system can also reduce the amount of resources you’re wasting on making an unused space comfortable, despite its lack of inhabitants.
Everyone Can Help Save Energy at School
Students, as well as teachers, staff, and administrators, can take small steps that will reduce energy waste at school. Teachers should make sure that students understand the importance of reducing the school’s impact. With a little education about how to reduce electricity use at school, many students will proudly contribute to the efforts to make their school a little more green.