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Top 10 Tips to Minimize Energy Use

1. Work with your local energy company.

  • Arrange for help with an energy audit.
  • Inquire about the possibility of obtaining energy from clean, renewable sources.
  • Inquire about applicable rebate or incentive programs for using renewable energy or engaging in energy conservation.
  • Obtain posters, leaflets and possible speakers or activities.

2. Evaluate your lighting needs.

  • Shut off lights when a room is not in use or when there is sufficient natural light.
  • Turn exterior lights off during daylight hours and consider installing motion detectors.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, which use 1/4 the energy and last ten times as long.
  • Dust off and clean lighting fixtures regularly. Dirty light bulbs can reduce light output by as much as 10 percent.
  • Consider switching to LED exit signs, which use much less energy.

3. Involve students, staff and parents in energy conservation initiatives.

  • Establish student patrols to check that lights are off in rooms not being used.
  • Post stickers, posters and signs as reminders to turn off lights, shut down equipment and unplug items when not in use.
  • Involve students in monitoring energy consumption. Create a display for recording progress and display it in a prominent location.
  • Reward students with a party if conservation goals are met.

4. Check the building's openings.

  • Keep exterior doors closed as much as possible. Close classroom doors to help retain heat.
  • Replace broken or cracked window panes.
  • Place caulking and weather-stripping around doors and windows.
  • Consider adding extra insulation.
  • Install UV films on windows that face the sun.
  • Consider installing a reflective roof coating to reduce the need for air conditioning, or installing a green roof for added insulation.

5. Evaluate the energy efficiency of your school cafeteria.

  • Review the energy rating of kitchen appliances. When purchasing new appliances, choose Energy Star models.
  • Keep refrigerator doors closed and condenser coils clean.
  • Wash only full loads in the dishwashers.
  • Turn off lights on vending machines or install vending misers.
  • Reduce hot water temperatures throughout the school, and use a booster in the kitchen if necessary.Consider insulating the hot water heater and hot water pipes.

6. Make efficient use of your heating and air-conditioning systems.

  • Avoid using space heaters.
  • Close windows and curtains at the end of the day, and utilize curtains to either keep heat in or sun out.
  • Clear space around wall and floor vents of obstructions.
  • Have mechanical systems serviced, air vents cleaned out, and air filters replaced regularly.
  • Use programmable thermostats to adjust temperatures in the evening and on weekends.

7. Pay close attention to how outlets are utilized.

  • Unplug items that are not in use. Electronics consume as much as 75 percent of their total energy when turned off.
  • Consider using power strips to turn off multiple items with one flip of the switch. (Some strips even allow you to power down several items simply by turning off one of them.)
  • Invest in a few handheld electricity usage monitors. These devices track the efficiency of specific equipment and can act as learning tools for students.

8. Reduce the amount of energy used by electronics and office equipment.

  • Turn computers off at the end of the day. Arrange for computers to go into sleep mode when not in use, and avoid installing screen savers.
  • When buying new equipment, choose Energy Star models.
  • Use only necessary equipment. For example, confirm that all printers on the network are used regularly.
  • Consider placing timers on electrical equipment.

9. Schedule school activities to minimize energy use.

  • If possible, plan extracurricular activities during daylight hours.
  • Schedule after-hours meetings in rooms with their own temperature controls
  • Try to coordinate multiple activities for the same evening if the building is kept open late.
  • Schedule small-group activities or meetings in smaller spaces rather than large ones such as the cafeteria or gymnasium.

10. Consider generating your own electricity on-site.

  • Find out if it's possible to place solar panels on the school.
  • Research wind power. Look into the new, smaller wind turbines that can be attached to building structures.

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