How To Save Money On Your School Energy Bills

by | Apr 6, 2018

With budgets being squeezed, most schools are looking at every opportunity to cut costs, in order to channel as much as possible into teaching and learning.

Improving energy efficiency, leading to lower energy bills, is an area where many schools are making surprising savings, even those with relatively new premises. This can include boiler retrofits, additional insulation and solar panels.

Moving to LED lighting is one of the most obvious cost-cutting options. With improvements in technology, the cost of LED bulbs has come down drastically in the last few years making the installation more cost effective.

In terms of energy bills, LEDs are a fraction of the cost to run as compared to traditional bulbs, and they last up to 50,000 hours. Based on an average of 9 hours use per day, that is a 15 year lifespan.

Because they are long lasting, maintenance and replacement costs are reduced as well. Sensors can be installed at the same time, which means that lights automatically go off when no one is in a room.

Example 1: Primary school
As an example, one primary school upgraded 350 light fittings to T5 LED lights and installed PIR sensors to control light consumption. The result was an approximate 60 per cent reduction in their energy bill.

Existing fittings*: Average 100 watts

New LED fittings*10.50 p/kWh

Electricity price*: 10.50 p/kWh

Energy savings*: 55,577 kWh (approx 60%)

Cost savings*: £5,836/year

*Figures calculated by Salix Finance 2017

Other benefits were that classrooms and workspaces were noticeable brighter, resulting in a better environment for teachers and pupils. The school also used the project to teach children about saving energy, and it contributed to their status as an Eco Platinum school.

You can read the full case study here.

Example 2: Secondary school
In another example, an 11-16 secondary school of about 700 pupils replaced 850 of its existing, outdated lights with T5 LED lights and PIR sensors. It found its energy bills reduced by about 66 per cent.

Existing fittings*: Average 123 Watts

New LED fittings*: Average 66 Watts

Electricity price*: 10.50 p/kWh

Energy savings*: 194,600 kWh (approx 66%)

Cost savings*: £20,433/year

The headteacher noted that lighting levels around all areas of the school were much improved, as was the quality of the lighting.

You can read the full case study here.

Government funding
Of course, there are upfront costs for installation, which vary depending on the amount of work required. The good news is that the Government has made money available to schools to cover purchase and installation, through the Salix programme.

Salix provides interest-free Government funding to the public sector to improve energy efficiency. Where Salix loans are approved, the yearly energy savings will be more than the yearly loan repayment, so in actual terms there is no upfront cost, and the school will see cost savings from the first year.

As public bodies, maintained schools can apply for Salix funding at any time. For academies, there has been a funding window each year in which they can apply.

We understand that the funding window for academies is likely to open early in 2018. Academy funding is first come, first served, so smart academies are having surveys done now in order to be ready to apply as soon as the window opens.

The good news is that Salix funding isn’t the only way fund energy efficient lighting. We will cover other forms of low cost financing, and the Salix funding process, in another blog.

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