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It’s easy to forget that schools are a type of business. But eco-friendly policies are just as important in schools as they are in any other type of establishment.

The general public has become increasingly conscious about schools and their environmental impact; and with climate change targets now set, we must now strive to be more environmentally friendly, lest we suffer the consequences.

This guide looks at the measures you can take to make your school more energy-efficient and encourage your students to become more environmentally-aware.

Why should schools prioritise energy efficiency?

The demand on schools in the UK is getting even higher and the pressure is on to find ways to save money. Whether this is to redistribute funds elsewhere, to benefit pupils or to simply tighten purse strings.

According to Gov.org statistics, the number of pupils requiring places in state-funded schools had risen to 8.4 million by the end of the 2014-15 academic year. But with a mere 24,317 state-funded schools available to cater for this demand, it’s no wonder budgets are strained.

By becoming increasingly eco-conscious, schools can significantly cut down on their outgoings as well as help the environment.

What are the benefits of making a school eco-friendly?

There are plenty of advantages to making your school more eco-friendly. These include:

  • Helping the environment – A key benefit, making eco-friendly improvements to a school will help to preserve the environment and assist in combatting climate change. With the UK having a set target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, it is essential for all homes and businesses to do what they can to help improve energy-efficiency and eco-friendliness.
  • Saving funds – When you use less energy, your energy bills get cheaper. As previously mentioned, schools are under constant pressure to save money where they can, so reducing your energy consumption and lowering your utility bills will help to keep more money in the pot for other important expenses or investments.
  • Boosts reputation – With there being such a key focus on environmental preservation throughout the world, businesses who make the effort to prioritise eco-friendliness are often held in high regard. By putting sustainability policies in place, you could make your school more attractive to parents and students.
  • Educates pupils ­– We’re not going to be able to solve climate change in a day. The process of preserving the earth will take time and continuous effort, so it’s important for children to be equipped with the knowledge they need to take care of the environment in the future.

How can your school become more eco-friendly?

There are a number of steps that you can take to make your school more eco-friendly and energy-efficient. Below we list 12 top tips; some steps are simple and easy to do so you can even get the kids involved!

1. Invest in smart extension leads 

Throw single sockets out with the old and bring smart extension leads in with the new this term. These multiple-socket power strips prevent the flow of electricity from turned off appliances, reducing your carbon footprint. You may also impress the parents; many smart power strips are now available in sleek wall-mounted designs allowing you to control the device via a wireless remote or mobile app! Although they’re a little pricier, you’ll soon start to see the benefit when you’re saving money on your school’s energy bill.

2. Turn down the heat and let in the breeze

During warmer periods, turn off the heating or air conditioning units and open the windows. Enjoy the fresh air! This will not only reduce your usage, but research conducted by the University of Rochester in 2010 suggests the fresh air increases energy in 90% of people, keeping those little ones focused and ready to learn!

3. Power Down 

Printers, scanners, photocopiers and other equipment used intermittently should be set to sleep mode or be switched off when you don’t need them. Encourage everyone to shut down computers before they leave, this can easily reduce energy consumption by nearly 40 per cent according to Rainforest Alliance.

4. Keep the air circulating 

Be sure to keep the classroom clutter free, especially in the vented areas. A cleaner space could also help to keep the kids focused.

FACT: Did you know that books and bulky items absorb the air circulated by vents and cooling units?  Meaning those nasty back-to-school bugs, germs, bacteria and smells have no room to escape and continue to circulate around the classroom. All the more reason to pack things away!

5. Remember, a small leak can sink a ship

You should aim to stop heat from leaking out through doors and windows, this will make you less reliant on the heating and help to reduce bills. Create a lesson where students can manage designated areas of energy loss, you could even allow them to create ‘draught meters’ made from thin plastic wrap and pencils, and task them to identify the heat-loss zones using their handmade draught meters. Remember to report any major leaks.

Insulation is another great way of keeping heat within the building.

6. Lights out!

A good old-fashioned “Turn off the lights” campaign can work wonders, teach the children the benefits of turning off the lights, and challenge them to make posters that can be displayed around the classroom. Did you know that lighting typically uses over 25% of the energy used in a school?

7. Stick signs up everywhere

The classroom isn’t the only place you should target with your eco-friendly efforts. Placing signs up in places like bathrooms and encouraging the kids to ensure that the taps are turned off properly and to report any leaks could help to reduce water wastage.

8. Invest in energy-efficient appliances

This may seem like a pricey task, but appliances such as desktops, boilers and ovens that are highly efficient can help to lower your bills. You don’t have to do this all at once, you could stagger your purchases in terms of year groups or rooms and invest in new equipment over time to suit your budget.

Top Tip: LED lightbulbs use 90% less energy than standard lights, so switching all the lightbulbs in your school to LEDs could help to reduce your energy bills.

9. Choose the right settings

Kids can get a bit fussy if the classroom is too hot or too cold. Setting your thermostat to around 18°C–20°C in winter and approximately 24°C–27°C in summer will help to keep the classroom at just the right temperature and prevent the heating and air conditioning from using too much energy.

10. Make the kitchen more efficient

A lot of energy goes into making school dinners, considering the number of children you are catering for. You can help to reduce this energy consumption by instructing staff to employ techniques such as avoiding overfilling kettles and saucepans, not switching appliances on too soon and defrosting fridge and freezers regularly.

11. Invest in smart meters and monitor energy usage

Smart meters could help you get greater control over how energy is used in the school. These intelligent devices allow you to monitor your energy usage and thus provide opportunities for you to identify areas for efficiency improvement. You could also invest in smart thermostats to get more control over the heating.

12. Choose renewable energy

The government has introduced schemes such as the Feed-In Tariff (FIT) and Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) initiatives to promote the installation and use of renewable energy sources. By investing in solar panels or wind turbines, you could get paid for the electricity you export to the National Grid as well as benefit from a cleaner energy source.

Alternatively, you could select a green energy tariff, where your energy supplier matches the energy you buy with purchases of renewable energy. That way, you’re still doing your bit for the environment. 

Love Energy Savings always advises businesses to compare business energy tariffs to ensure that they’re on the best deal. Find a cheaper energy deal today by using our free energy comparison tool.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for more ways to save energy and reduce your energy bill, you can find great tips from our latest energy guides.