Maximise energy efficiency in summer

by FM Media
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We look at five essential steps to reducing operational costs and save energy during the quieter months when education facilities and schools are empty or mostly empty. With summer in full swing, schools across the nation have almost two months before students return. Despite empty or mostly empty facilities, many schools often continue to use more energy than needed during the slower summer months.

Facilities managers ought to take advantage of summer breaks to optimise energy efficiency programs. With low-cost operational changes and retrofits, schools can further reduce their energy costs. Here are a number of steps education facilities can take to help to reduce bills and steer extra dollars back to other operational needs.

Regulate lighting operations
Lighting often accounts for the bulk of the energy bills for schools. While it may seem like an obvious energy saver to turn off lights, more schools than you may think leave lights on. If lights are needed in common areas for security purposes or during modified hours of occupation, building administrators and managers can take advantage of automatic timers or building management systems to maximise energy efficiency.

Shut off hot water
Most schools have large hot water tanks used for bathrooms and kitchens during the school year. If the school does not have any athletic activities during the summer, it is best to completely shut off the water tanks and hot water supply to reduce hot water bills and thermal energy.

Adjust HVAC schedules or shut off HVAC completely
Most schools have limited, and in some cases no, regular daily activity at the end of the year. This presents an opportunity to shut down HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) operations for the duration of the summer recess. In cases where there is activity and air-conditioning is needed for those scorching days, systems can be scheduled through a central building management system or through individually programmed thermostats to ensure HVAC systems are switched on only when buildings are occupied.

Install vending machine controllers
Vending machines typically remain switched on all-day all year, and most schools have several machines, more on larger campus grounds. These machines can be a huge energy drain all-year round as they are rarely used during evening hours, and throughout the summer months usage drops even lower. Vending machine controllers can be used to automatically shut off lights and decrease refrigeration compressor usage during scheduled hours. This implementation can reduce electrical consumption even beyond the summer months to provide energy savings all year-round.

Unplug refrigeration
For schools that don’t require food service during the summer months, shutting down refrigeration equipment can lead to a 10 to 15 percent saving off their annual costs. If there is food that needs to remain frozen over the summer months, items can be consolidated to reduce the number of freezers active during the lull period.

By making these small changes, most of which are simple, low-to-no cost tweaks, schools can drastically improve their energy efficiency performance and kick-off the new academic year this autumn with a green conscience.

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