Reducing energy costs for schools and colleges in Sussex

Schools and colleges across Sussex can free up budget and demonstrate leadership by driving down their use of fossil fuels

As a result of years of austerity budgets, schools and colleges in Brighton and Hove are used to juggling scarce funds.

Spending on educational resources such as books and ICT is an obvious priority, but providing adequate lighting, heating or cooling is also important in creating an optimum learning environment.

Installing appropriate energy saving or energy generating technologies will minimise the amount of money that schools have to spend on heat and power and achieve a significant reduction in monthly outgoings, leaving more money available to spend on teaching resources and staff.

A well thought out energy policy also delivers a clear signal to students and the wider community that your school or college is demonstrating action and leadership in the fight against climate change.

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Why energy efficiency improvements make for a successful school or college

Research by the Institute of School Business Leadership1 indicates that energy costs are often the second highest expenditure in schools after teachers and staff.

Whilst energy demand and associated costs will vary from site to site, what is true for all school facilities is that energy costs can be managed and minimised by implementing an effective long-term energy strategy.

By introducing energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives in your school or college, you will not only secure significant cost savings and create and improved learning environment, you will also be providing a powerful demonstration of sustainability in action. You are showing a willingness to take steps to reduce the dangers of climate change and are encouraging responsible behaviour from students and parents beyond the school gates.

energy saving schools colleges brighton hove sussex
Image: CDC - UnSplash

Government bodies are beginning to recognise the important role that educational establishments have to play in our move to a zero carbon future. In its election manifesto, the current government pledged £2.9 billion over the next five years (yet to be confirmed) towards improving energy efficiency in schools and hospitals to boost momentum in energy efficiency sector supply chains.

In Brighton and Hove, schools and colleges are based in a wide variety of buildings. Some are relatively new, some are very old, and all will present unique challenges when it comes to designing an energy performance improvement strategy.

Identifying the most effective ways to reduce energy costs for your school or college

To identify opportunities for improving the energy performance of your school it is vital to gain a thorough understanding of energy demand and consumption patterns.

For this reason, a bespoke BHESCo energy survey should be the first phase of any planned building improvements, underpinning every other stage of your future energy strategy.

The most appropriate solution for improving energy efficiency will differ from school to school depending on the physical characteristics of the building and the particular ways in which it is used day to day.

Our bespoke energy survey will provide a thorough and detailed examination of every aspect involved with heating and powering your building.

"“The subliminal daily message of having the lights powered by the sun is the most powerful teacher we have in preparing our children for a future where they consider the wellbeing of the planet as being synchronous with their own”"
Paul Pillai - Solar power schools - the montessori place - brighton hove energy services
Paul Pillai
Headteacher
Montessori Place School, Uckfield

Our Energy Saving Team will conduct an on-site survey to capture all relevant data, using FLIR thermal imaging software where neccessary. We will analyse your energy bill data to gain an understanding of your energy usage and to identify where performance can be improved.

We will produce a survey report detailing where heat and electricity are being wasted and recommending the most cost-effective ways to take remedial action.

Our report will look at a variety of potential solutions for your buildings, comparing the costs and benefits of different types of technologies. This includes a breakdown of the anticipated reduction in energy demand that we would expect from installing specific measures and the corresponding financial savings on future energy bills.

This allows you to make an informed decision about which technologies will deliver the best outcomes for your school or college and which offer the best value for money and quickest payback timeframes.

What typical upgrades can be made to improve the energy performance of schools and colleges?

The optimal design for improving the energy performance of your educational facility will incorporate a range of energy saving and energy generating technologies that work in synergy to deliver maximum efficiency.

Schools and colleges are often ideal candidates for generating solar heat and power. Their buildings are used throughout the day when solar power is at its peak, and they often have large roofs that provide ample space for large solar arrays. Depending on individual circumstances, other appropriate energy generating systems might include the installation of air source or ground source heat pumps.

On top of generating your own energy, there are many ways to reduce the volume of heat and power that your school or college uses. One of the most effective ways is to instantly reduce inefficiency and heat loss is by ensuring that roofing, walls, windows and doors are adequately insulated and draught proofed.

Does your heating system have the latest efficiency controls such as smart thermostats and data-driven heat demand management? Have you switched to LED lighting and installed movement sensors or power down plugs?

These are just some of the questions that school facilities managers must address when reviewing their energy strategy. Other considerations can include:

For schools that have solar panels installed the addition of battery storage technology enables owners to store electricity for use at a later time of their convenience.

Battery storage can also enable users to take advantage of ‘Time Of Use’ Tariffs, whereby a battery can be charged during times when energy prices are low and discharged at when prices are high.

Alternatively, they may choose to sell any surplus electricity back to the electricity grid at times of high demand.

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Switching from traditional incandescent or halogen lighting to energy efficient ‘Light Emitting Diodes’ (LEDs) can reduce electricity consumption by up to 90%.

Adding motion sensors for lesser used rooms or corridors can further help to drive down energy bills.

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Chances are that your heating consumption makes up the lion’s share of your monthly energy bill.

Generating your heat more efficiently can greatly reduce your bills and dramatically improve comfort in your property. This could involve installing radiant panel heating or underfloor heating.

Depending on the the type of building in question and the aspect of the roof you may be able to start generating your own renewable heat using and air source or a ground source heat pump.

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The cost of heating in the UK can be very expensive.

If you are losing heat through draughty windows and doors then your property will not only be uncomfortably cold but you will be wasting huge amounts of money as well.

Improving your windows and doors will make your property feel much warmer in the winter and much cooler in the summer.

Furthermore, as well as helping you cut down on energy bills, new windows and doors will reduce levels of noise pollution from outside.

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Any floor that is above an unheated space (like a garage or a basement) can easily lose a great deal of heat to the colder area beneath.

In some properties heat can be lost throught the ground floor as well, so it is important that floors are properly insulated wherever possible.

The type of floor in your property (concrete or suspended timber) will determine which solution is most appropriate.

Hot air rises, which means that up to a quarter of heat loss in can occur if your roof is not properly insulated.

Fortunately, topping up your loft insulation is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make a big difference to the energy efficiency of your property.

Increasing the depth of your loft insulation to the recommended minimum of 270mm will immediately improve comfort and wellbeing while helping you to dramatically reduce energy bills.

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The majority of heat loss in the home occurs through the walls – in some cases heat loss though uninsulated walls can account for up to half of all heat loss in a property.

There are a variety of solutions for improving the energy efficiency of your walls which can depend on the age and the type of the property.

Possible solutions could include Cavity Wall Insulation, External Wall Insulation, or Internal Wall Insulation.

If neccessary our energy assessment can include a boroscope survey to identify the current state of the walls and what insulation there may or may not be already.

In many instances there is no need for lights to be left on continually. Adding motion sensors to turn lights on automatically whenever an employee is in the vicinity will cut down on waste and can achieve savings of up to 30%.

It is also advisable to install remote heating and lighting controls, enabling specific heat and light levels to be set for different zones of the building and in relation to time and seasonal variations.

Integrating remote monitoring and controls will enable facilities managers to continually gather and analyse data about a building’s energy use, adjusting heat and lighting settings in reaction to the information available, and creating a business case for the adoption of new measures where necessary.

How schools can show leadership on the climate emergency

Today’s young generation demand urgent action and leadership on the climate emergency.

As demonstrated by the recent school climate strikes and the popularity of climate action groups such as Extinction Rebellion, many young people are deeply concerned about the threat of climate change and feel let down by many of their leaders and the older generation.  

When covering environmental aspects of the school curriculum, what better way of bringing the climate emergency to life than through tangible examples of energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in your own school or college?

The importance of buy-in from faculty and students

In order to gain maximum benefit from any physical energy efficiency improvements that are made to your school or college premises, it’s vital that you have the support and co-operation of your colleagues and students.

Educating colleagues and students on effective energy management and efficient behaviours will help to embed sustainability practice into the school or college. When colleagues and students have a good understanding of the financial and environmental benefits of sustainable behaviour, they will be better placed and more emotionally invested in supporting efforts to reduce energy consumption.

As well as reducing costs, encouraging colleagues and students to reduce energy consumption within the organisation demonstrates environmental responsibility and shows leadership within the wider community.

Switch Your Energy Tariff

One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce the cost of your monthly energy bills is by switching to a cheaper supplier or tariff.

BHESCo work with our trusted commercial energy broker to secure the best deals available on the market.

Check the details of your current tariff and give us a call.

Case Studies

We are very proud to have partnered with eight local schools and colleges in Sussex to collectively install over 1,000 solar panels. Added together these projects have a combined generation capacity of 414kWp and will save the schools an estimated £423,951 on energy costs over the operational lifetime of the technology.

Furthermore, by enabling schools to generate their own on-site solar power, we expect to reduce carbon emissions by 2,442 tonnes of CO2 over the next 20 years – enough to offset more than six million miles driven by car2.

The Montessori Place, Uckfield

Year: 2016

Technology Installed: 27kW solar PV, 7kW Daikin heat pump, underfloor heating, 106 LED lamps, 300mm loft insulation

Lifetime Financial Saving: £49,260

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 171 tonnes

View full case study >>

Brunswick Primary, Hove

Year: 2020

Solar PV Capacity: 99kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £87,420

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 612 tonnes

Hertford Infants, Brighton

Year: 2020

Solar PV Capacity: 48kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £123,580

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 288 tonnes

Patcham Junior, Brighton

Year: 2020

Solar PV Capacity: 29.7kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £13,060

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 175 tonnes

Year: 2019

Solar PV Capacity: 49.5kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £98,370

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 271 tonnes

Tarnerland Nursery, Brighton

Year: 2019

Solar PV Capacity: 13.75kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £43,740

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 79 tonnes

Saltdean Primary, Brighton

Year: 2019

Solar PV Capacity: 49.8kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £52,261

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 299 tonnes

Plumpton College, Plumpton

Year: 2019

Solar PV Capacity: 97.1kW

Lifetime Financial Saving: £96,680

Lifetime CO2 Saving: 547 tonnes

Funding Your Energy Saving Measures

At BHESCo we understand that the upfront cost of installing energy saving measures for yoru business or organisation can be expensive.

That’s why we make our innovative ‘Pay As You Save’ financing available to all of our customers.

We cover the upfront project cost on your behalf which is then paid back over time using a portion of the savings achieved on your monthly energy bills. Once our loan is repaid you become the owner of your energy saving measures and will enjoy 100% of the savings for the lifetime of the equipment.

Frequently Asked Questions

We make our Energy Saving Service available to everyone in the community whether they are a member of BHESCo or not.

Many BHESCo customers go on to become members but this is not a prerequisite.

Recent regulations in the property rental market have greatly increased the importance of having an up-to-date and accurate Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

From April 2023, all commercially rented properties must meet government issued Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) or they will be ineligible for new lettings.

An energy survey usually takes no more than 1-2 hours depending on the size of your property.
We aim to have your completed Energy Saving Report to you within five working days following the survey.

Your Energy Saving Report includes details of all the ways you are wasting heat and energy in your home in addition to our suggestions of how to address any issues with the most cost-effective solutions available.
Our suggested energy efficiency/ energy generation measures include details of typical upfront costs and anticipated payback time, as well as the expected financial and carbon reducing benefits.

Our report will include an analysis of your current gas and electric bills plus a recommendation of cheaper energy tariffs if applicable. Usually the savings made from switching tariff alone will cover the cost of the energy survey.

It is preferable that our energy surveyors are able to view each room of the property including the loft so some clearance may be required if neccessary.

It is also beneficial to have access to any meters, boilers, or hot water controls.

A copy of your most recent gas and electric bill is essential for helping us to understand yoru energy use and current costs.

If you are interested in taking action to reduce the energy costs and environmental impact of your school or college then request and Energy Survey using the booking form link below and our Energy Saving Team will contact you within the next few working days.

References

1 – https://isbl.org.uk/Resource/Factsheets/Energy.aspx

2 – https://www.epa.gov/energy/greenhouse-gas-equivalencies-calculator