From powering heating systems to computers and lighting, schools consume large amounts of energy. But, with pressure from climate change groups and governments, pressure is rapidly increasing to cut carbon emissions.
Before you can begin looking at the electricity and gas switching process, you need to be aware of a number of factors; such as, whether or not to use a price comparison site or if your KVA capacity is set to the right level. In a previous article we explored all the things you need to know before switching in depth.
You would not be alone in thinking you need to maintain high energy use in order to function day to day; however, there are many things that can be adopted to ensure your school is a model of efficiency whilst maintaining or even improving performance.
In this guide, we’ll explain how you can save both energy and money by taking a strategic approach to your energy and going beyond simply paying less.
The school is part of a buying group, can we do anything?
Despite common conception, being part of a buying group does not always result in you getting the best possible prices. Buying groups use a collective approach to energy procurement with the theory being that the more energy volume they put to suppliers, the cheaper the prices will be. Basically, if you buy in bulk, you’ll get a better price. However, buying groups often include a commission and don’t tend to provide any services in addition to getting your energy prices.
In today’s climate, we’re all under scrutiny when it comes to how much energy we are using and what green credentials we have so it’s becoming more and more important to go beyond simply having an energy contract in place.
What if the school has already agreed an energy deal?
Should you abandon the deal and simply begin looking at prices again once you are in your renewal period? In short, no.
If you are in the position where you simply wait until your current contracts are due for renewal before comparing energy prices, you could be potentially adding to your bottom line. As with many other commodities, energy prices have increased over time. Therefore, locking in new contracts at today’s prices will ensure you are not subject to a big price increase when your current contracts come to an end.
What type of energy contact should the school have?
The type of energy contract you choose is also important. If you are looking to set budgets, then a fixed price agreement would probably be the best fit as this would allow you to calculate your long-term energy spend (providing your usage does not significantly change).
Or, if you’re environmentally conscious, a green energy tariff could be the best option. Green Tariffs provide a drastic reduction to your environmental impact without having to reduce your usage. These are energy contracts that are sourced by renewables such as solar panels or wind turbines rather than the burning of fossil fuels. Not only would the environmental impact be improved but your reputation would also with green attributes enhancing your school’s brand.
If you are on a renewable tariff, you will also qualify from a CCL charge exemption.
We have many different meters, how can we reduce the admin?
As schools often have many energy meters and therefore multiple contracts, the administrative burden of keeping on top on contract ends dates and prices can be overwhelming. And, if you miss an end date and fall onto out of contract rates, you’ll see a noticeable price increase.
By working with a cost saving consultant, you could have all of your contract end dates aligned, and they would be in touch with you as to when your contracts are due for renewal meaning you would never be at risk of falling on to expensive rates.
What should we do after we’ve arranged contracts?
According to recent findings, the environment ranks third in terms of the public’s concerns, with only Brexit and health ranked higher. And, with government targets in place that state the UK must end climate emissions by 2050, time is of essence to get energy strategies implemented to ensure impact.
There are many routes to improving environmental impact. Through the implementation of monitoring software, you will be able to visualise where and when energy is being used in the school and gain an understanding of your consumption.
Heating accounts for the biggest energy spend in schools. Renewable alternatives such as biomass are a more environmentally friendly option for heating systems. Rather than burning gas, wood is burned to produce heat and because the carbon dioxide produced during burning equals that outputted when growing trees, the fuel is classed as carbon neutral. Wood is also significantly cheaper than other energy sources like gas and electricity, so you would also see cost savings as a result of installing a biomass heating system.
How can we ensure the school still operates whilst reducing emissions?
Whilst considering energy for the school, ensuring an optimal environment for education will be a priority. Considering; lighting, heating, I.T equipment, catering facilities and all of the other things that ensure the school operates effectively is key. So, you may be worried that if you cut usage it will be at the detriment to performance. This does not have to be the case.
Making simple changes like turning off lights when they aren’t necessary and making the most of natural light will reduce energy waste within the school. Also, by implementing some of the measures above, such as energy monitoring software, you will be a lot more informed as to how energy is being used ultimately resulting in you being more calculated.
Can we get our pupils involved?
We’ve all seen awareness of climate issues increasing amongst younger generations, with influencers like Greta Thunberg driving messages in global media. It’s therefore paramount that schools take an active approach in reducing their carbon footprint and ensuring visibility and education on such matters to pupils.
Many youngsters have already committed to striking from school as they feel the environmental impact is simply too important. Through a visible effort to reduce emissions and increase energy efficiency, pupils will be more inclined to attend and support their school in the effort to become more sustainable.
Educating pupils on the importance of reducing emissions and providing the methods to do so may also translate into their home, further adding to the impact.
If your school is part of a multi-academy trust or a group, why not instil a sense of competition. Which school is the greenest? By installing monitoring software in each school, you can gage which is the best performing in terms of saving energy.
How can we make the most of our energy?
Rather than simply arranging contracts or carrying out energy saving initiatives in isolation, schools could see greater benefits through the implementation of a full energy strategy. This way a holistic approach could be taken and initiatives involving pupils and staff could be encouraged.
Educating your teaching staff and pupils will not only result in an engaged workforce but also cost and carbon savings. These savings can then be allocated to the curriculum line of your annual budget.