EnergyMyWay – Helping schools reduce their energy bills

Schools get help with Energy Efficiency

The need to become more energy efficient is pressing upon independent schools more than ever before. Energy bills are soaring and carbon taxes are now a reality; schools need to respond with sustainable measures to reduce their energy costs. But for many independent schools in the UK, this is a lot easier said than done.  Developing a strategy for long-term sustainability needs careful consideration, so what is the best way to make sure your school gets it right?

EnergyMyWay, a specialist energy efficiency company assisting schools across the country, believes they have the answer. Managing Director, Jason Hobbins explains,

?Many of our independent schools are high energy users with hard to treat, unique buildings. There isn?t a one-size-fits-all answer to becoming more energy efficient for properties like this.  Our approach is a step-by-step process, working in partnership with bursars over a period of time.

We always start by assessing the school?s current energy usage so there is a benchmark for measuring progress. We then identify efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies that will make the greatest difference to the school. Over time we can then install a range of technologies, often during holiday periods and to fit in with the school?s building development plans. With each installation we are able to demonstrate the improved efficiency against the original benchmark and show the positive impact on the schools finances.?

An example of a unique energy problem in an old established school property was found in Abingdon School in Oxfordshire. The energy assessment produced by EnergyMyWay revealed that every time a shower was switched on in the boarding house, it was taking a staggering three minutes for the hot water to travel to reach the shower. With their very high shower usage, this was having a significant impact on the hot water bills for the school. The solution was to install two hot water heat pumps, designed to extract the heat from the shower rooms and recycle it to produce an endless source of free hot water.

?Many people think of Solar when they think of renewable energy? Mr Hobbins continues, ?While we usually do install solar as part of a good sustainability strategy, the easier, quicker wins are often with the heating and hot water systems; this is why its so important to understand exactly how energy is being used in the property at the moment.

With older buildings it is essential to get the basics right first. This comes down to ensuring that everything that can be done to improve insulation is addressed. We will look for opportunities to insulate lofts, cavity walls and solid walls. For hard to treat buildings we may also consider the benefits of internal wall insulation.

Air Source and Ground Source Heat Pumps are highly efficient ways of reducing heating costs, particularly as part of the development of new school buildings.  For older properties the savings for introducing biomass boilers are extremely high, especially when compared to the costs of oil or LPG. On the electricity side, there are the benefits and returns that can be achieved from solar, but we can also make a huge difference by upgrading the school?s lighting, which can contribute up to 40% of the total electricity bill. Wind Turbines provide a prominent environmental statement on the school?s landscape and a fantastic educational tool, while all the time generating free electricity and further savings.?

The key for bursars is to find one single source of support for your whole sustainability strategy; a specialist who completely understands your individual school, its current energy usage patterns and your future development plans. They should be able to offer you a full and certified installation service across the whole range of renewable and energy efficient technologies, together with a way to monitor and demonstrate the impact of measures taken. A successful partnership like this will ensure that the best decisions are taken for the long-term sustainability and future of the school.

Energy Efficiency subsidies and funding options

Capital costs of renewable technologies no longer need to be a barrier for schools to make progress. As part of the government?s drive towards lowering carbon emissions, The Carbon Trust can now provide Energy Efficiency Financing through Siemens Financial Services. This unique leasing arrangement is designed to be completely cost neutral, with energy savings and subsidies covering the costs of the lease.

EnergyMyWay helps schools to gain access government subsidies, giving you an income as a reward for the installation of renewable technologies. The Renewable Heat Incentive rewards installations of Heat Pumps, Biomass and Solar Hot Water, while the Feed-in Tariff is designed to reward installations of renewable electricity such as Solar PV and Wind Turbines.

?Most independent schools have been established in their main school buildings for many years and are likely to remain there for decades to come,? says Mr Hobbins, ?Government subsidies are designed to give rewards for twenty plus years, which means schools are perfectly placed to take best advantage of the highest financial returns.?

James Eades

By: James Eades

Operations Director, James Eades is EnergyMyWay's in-house expert on renewable energy policy, microgeneration technologies and best practice in the renewable energy industry.