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Energy-Saving Tips for Schools

Sep 27, 2013

Autumn heralds the return of many things, like the wearing of sweaters, raking of leaves and for kids – going back to school. And while saving energy at home is important, schools also can benefit from energy-saving tips and programs. The great thing about saving energy in schools is that students can really get involved in the process and make it a learning experience for everyone! So, for all the returning students out there, here are some energy-saving tips for your school that you can practice (and share):


  • Turn off lights when not in use – lighting accounts for nearly 50% of the electric bill in most schools. This applies to energy-efficient fluorescent lights too.
  • Form a student energy patrol to ensure lights are out when rooms are empty (check classrooms, the cafeteria, the auditorium, etc.).
  • Have students make signs and stickers to remind people to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
  • Have students conduct an experiment in classrooms by turning off selected banks of lights and measuring comfort at different lighting levels (many people prefer working under natural light).
  • Have students calculate the energy savings achieved by:
    • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs
    • Changing incandescent lights in Exit Signs to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs

Heating & Cooling

  • Heating and cooling school buildings can be expensive, but indoor temperatures must be comfortable so teacHERS® can concentrate on teaching and kids can concentrate on learning. Consider setting thermostats at 68 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling.
  • Don’t block the airflow around vents. Keep bookcases and other bulky items away from the heating and cooling units so they don’t block and/or absorb the warm (or cool) air that should be coming into the room.
  • Install programmable thermostats in areas like the cafeteria to minimize operating hours of the heating and cooling systems during low occupancy periods.
  • Turn down heat in the hallways; keep classroom doors closed.
  • Clean furnace filters regularly.
  • Stop leaks! Look for simple draft-beating strategies.
  • Have students determine areas of energy loss by using “draft-meters” made from plastic wrap and pencils to study where drafts are entering.
  • Have students help replace insulation and stuff energy loss “holes” with innovative measures, such as making translucent window quilts to hang in classrooms and “insulation snakes” to put at the bottom of doors and windows.
  • Work with facility staff to install permanent weather-stripping, caulking, and insulation.


  • If your school computers have power-management features, make sure controls are set so they will go into the “sleep” mode when not in active use.  (Screen savers don’t save energy – only the sleep mode does.)
  • Students should turn off monitors that will not be used for the next class period.  All computer equipment should be turned off at the end of the day and on weekends, unless your network technicians specifically instruct otherwise.
  • Form a student energy patrol to make sure monitors are off when computers are not in use and to turn computers off at the end of the day.
  • Save 50% on energy costs by using ENERGY STAR computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, copiers and other equipment. Calculate potential savings from the use of ENERGY STAR equipment and present the results to school administrators.


  • Have students use a wattmeter to study how much electricity a device uses. This helps to determine which appliances are out-dated and less efficient.
  • Have students conduct a survey of the number of appliances in each classroom and encourage teacHERS® to take away unneeded ones.
  • Clean refrigerator coils regularly.

Involve the Whole School

  • Energy savings add up when the entire school joins together in conservation efforts. Schools with effective conservation programs have reported reductions of as much as 25% in utility bills.
  • Publicize energy costs and savings. When people know how much it costs to power their school, they can see why it’s worth some extra effort to avoid waste.