Energy

Advice and guidance to EA Corporate and Schools on Energy Efficiency.

This section provides Energy Efficiency Guidance for Schools and across the EA Estate.

Improving energy efficiency and maximising the use of renewable energy sources will reduce costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Key Drivers for the Review of Energy Consumption

The EA is committed to support the Northern Ireland Energy Strategy, which requires all Government Departments to reduce Energy Consumption by 30% by 2030 (from 2016/17 baseline figures).

The following publication provides more detailed information.

The Climate Change Act (Northern Ireland) was passed in 2022 and provides for the first time, Climate Change legislation and the legal duty to recognise the need for strong collaboration in tackling Climate Change. This Act has set a target for Northern Ireland to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The following publications provide more detailed information:

Energy Reduction Savings Opportunities for Schools

Energy Saving Actions

Actions that can be taken to reduce energy costs:

  • Understanding Energy usage and conducting an Energy Audit/Review to target Energy savings.
  • Developing a plan using the Energy Audit/Review to encourage good practices, behaviours and further interventions.
  • Implementing and managing the proposed intervention to reduce Energy Consumption.
  • Promote Energy Awareness within your Educational setting. Consider establishing an Energy and Sustainability Action Committee and involve staff/pupils, depending on your Educational setting.

Significant savings on Energy bills can be achieved through simple no-cost actions outlined in the following table.

Fast Track Opportunity

Opportunity in your Educational Setting

Savings Opportunity

Active labelling of light switches

Many Educational settings, particular Schools, have excessive installed lighting and multiple light switches in rooms.

Mark up light switches that are not required to be on under normal daylight.

As much as 30% of lights can sometimes be left off (up to 12% of your electricity bill!)

Switch off lighting in daylight and when room is unoccupied

Switch off lighting when not required and maximise use of natural daylight. Also check that lights are switched off during breaks etc.

Savings are dependent on existing practices and windows (up to 10% of your electricity bill)

Switch off electronic devices

Turn off all electronic devices at the plug such as kettles, phone chargers, lamps and fans. These devices continue to consume electricity when not in use.

Up to 5% of your electricity bill

IT equipment switch- off

The active labelling of all equipment (switches and plugs) so that all users know what they can switch off.

Up to 5% of your electricity bill

Reducing your out of hours electrical load

Particularly in Schools, where opening hours can be less than 2,000 hours per year meaning they can be unoccupied for 5 to 6,000 hours a year. If electrical items are left on during out of hours, this causes a major waste of energy.

Savings up to 20% of your electricity bill

Checking that heating times align with your Educational setting usage hours

Reduces wasted use of fuels, emissions and costs.

Reducing heating by 1 hour a day can  reduce heating costs by 10%

Keeping windows and doors closed if the heating is on

If the heating system is being run ineffectively rooms can overheat and occupants open windows to reduce the temperature.

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRV’s) should be maintained so settings can be adjusted. Thermostats in rooms should be maintained and adjusted to the correct temperature.

Examples below of recommended temperatures:

  • Classrooms 18°C
  • Corridors and Toilets 15°C

You can find a list of recommended temperatures under the Energy Reduction Savings Opportunities section for Heating

A 1°C change can reduce or increase heating costs by 10%

  • Access the Energy resources on the Eco Schools NI website for Project and Session Plan inspiration.
  • Follow the steps to becoming an Eco School here.
  • Eco Schools NI work closely with a number of environmental organisations as well as local councils, book a workshop or visit here.

Heating

  • Check with the caretaker that the heating times match with the opening hours of the school so that it isn’t being heated when unoccupied.
  • Up to 30% of heating costs can be saved by preventing cold air entering the building (Carbon Trust). Make sure all sources of draughts are identified and appropriate draught proofing is fitted. If the room is too warm and the heating is on, adjust the temperature control/ radiator valves rather than opening windows and allowing the heat to escape. Alternatively, open classroom doors onto indoor corridors.
  • Poor control of a space can lead to discomfort, so it is important that staff understand know how to adjust the temperature, ventilation and lighting in their spaces so that conditions can be adjusted to achieve the desired comfort levels. Can the heating be controlled in the room? If not report it to the caretaker to investigate.
  • Curtains and blinds can help keep rooms comfortable during extremely cold or hot weather periods. Closing them at the end of the day during winter will reduce draughts and help keep heat within. Likewise, closing them in summer can also help reduce heat in rooms from direct sunlight.
  • Encourage everyone to adhere to these temperature guidelines and not turn the thermostat up if they’re cold. Encourage them to wear more clothes instead.
  • Provide thermometers for each room so you know what the temperature is. Heating costs increase by around 8% for every 1°C  increase (Carbon Trust).
  • Bring children into the classroom through internal doors rather than external doors that lead directly into the classroom. Ensure that exterior doors are not left open if the heating is on.
  • Do not place heat emitting items such as photocopiers under thermostats as this will create a false reading and the heating will not come on when needed.
  • Do not block radiators with furniture such as desks, tables and cupboards etc as this prevents the heat from being distributed effectively and can cause the heating system to operate more than is necessary.

Table showing recommended temperatures for different parts of the school

Area of school

Recommended temperature

Classrooms and dining areas

18°C

Multi-purpose halls

15-18°C

Gyms and sports halls

15°C

Medical rooms

21°C

Offices and staff rooms

18°C

Corridors and toilets

15°C

IT equipment

  • Picture of a plug with a red stickerLabel IT equipment to identify items that everyone can turn off where possible. Working with pupils, identify all IT equipment in all areas of the school. Place a coloured sticker on each item as follows:
    • Green for equipment which should be  switched off when not in use (for example, televisions, computers, laptops, projectors and interactive whiteboards.)
    • Orange for equipment which should be switched off after checking that no-one is using it (for example, the teacher’s computer).
    • Red Do not touch. For equipment which should not be switched off (for example, a freezer during term time or the main server).
  • Once the stickers have been placed on all the plugs and switches of IT equipment inform the whole school of your findings and what you have done emphasising what the different coloured stickers/shapes mean and that anything with a red sticker must NOT be turned off. Anything with an orange sticker can be turned off if appropriate but anything with a green sticker can be turned off if no-one is using it. Most people are shocked to discover how much electrical equipment the school owns and how much is being left on consuming energy unnecessarily.
  • Purchasing a timer plug for laptop trolleys would ensure they are not left on unnecessarily. The timer can be set to recharge the laptops for the required number of hours at the end of the day so they are ready for use in the morning. Continuous charging wastes energy and money, shortens the life of the laptop batteries and is a potential fire risk
  • Allow a computer network manager to switch off all machines remotely after an agreed time in the evening. This will ensure that all computers are switched off.

Lighting

Lighting accounts for approximately 20 to 25% of a School’s electricity costs therefore reducing the number of lights in use will save a proportion of the cost.

  • Common practice in a school is for all of the lights in a classroom/hall to be automatically switched on when entering the room without checking to see if there is sufficient natural light and whether some or all of the lights need to be switched on. Review if there is sufficient daylight to reduce the need for artificial light. This will vary depending on the time of day and orientation of the room. Blinds can also effectively control daylight and glare issues.
  • Often with new LED lighting all of the lights are on one switch. If lights are arranged in banks or rows in a room with multiple light switches it’s possible to switch rows of lights on or off independently, only using lights as necessary, reducing energy usage, emissions and saving money.
  • Currently LED upgrades use at least 80% less electricity than an equivalent tungsten halogen source” says The Carbon Trust. Compared to more traditional lighting, LED lights have a dramatically longer lifespan of around 50,000 hours which can reduce maintenance costs significantly. Installing lighting sensors in rooms which are used infrequently can help cut costs significantly.
  • Lights above cupboards offer little benefit therefore can usually be left off permanently. Lights are often left on in storage cupboards and should be switched off after use.
  • Toilets are problem areas with lights often being left on all day. Switch off lighting when not needed.
  • Windows can be obscured by displays and blinds resulting in lights being switched on when natural daylight could be used instead.
  • Motion sensors fitted to lighting systems cause the lights to come on when movement is detected. They are effective in cupboards and toilets where there is no natural daylight.
  • Upgrade lighting to energy efficient Light Emitting Diodes (LED). The reduction in energy usage and costs are substantial and enable a very short payback period.
  • Install Solar Photovoltaic Panels (Solar PV) but only after doing all you can to reduce the electricity consumed in the  school.

Out of School Working Hours

  • Schools should only use a small amount of electricity overnight for items such as servers, refrigerators and freezers. If other items are left on overnight, or over weekends and holidays, this can amount to as much as 20% of your daytime use. Carrying out an out-of-hours survey will help you to identify these items so you can ensure they are switched off.
  • An after school survey of all the rooms in the school would record the items and the number of those items that have been left on that day. Look particularly at lighting, photocopiers, printers, IT equipment, electric heaters, water heaters, overhead projectors, interactive boards, kitchens, exterior lighting and don’t forget the boiler room and other service areas.
  • Report your findings to everyone in the school as it will raise awareness of how much equipment the school has, that a lot of equipment is being left on and the potential savings to be made.
  • Encourage everyone to switch items off fully at the end of the day rather than leaving them on standby.

What to do if you have a Utility Supply or Billing Query

If you have a query regarding your Utility Supply or Bill please contact the Utility Provider listed in the table below, providing your:

  • full school/site name;
  • address including postcode; and
  • clarify if the supply relates to the main school building, school kitchen, nursery school etc.
Utility Provider Contact Details

Electricity (Electric Ireland)

Email: [email protected]

Gas (Firmus)

Website: Contact Us - We're here to help | firmus energy  
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0330 024 9000

LPG (Calorgas)

Website: https://www.calorgas.ie/support/
Tel: 028 9045 5588

LPG (Flogas)

Email: [email protected]
Tel: 028 9073 2611

Oil (Lissan Coal Co.)

Email:  [email protected]
Tel:  028 8676 5588

Water (NI Water)

Email: [email protected]
Tel: 0345 744 0088
Web Site: https://www.niwater.com/contact-us/

Guidance on how to read your Electricity Meter – schools with Non-Half Hourly (NHH) meters only

The EA are drawing your attention to the importance of submitting your monthly Electricity Meter Read directly to Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE).

For educational settings with a Non Half-Hourly (NHH) electricity meter, these must be manually read and submitted each month. Your electricity bill is calculated based on your submitted meter read.  If a monthly meter read is not submitted then your bill will be calculated based on estimated consumption, which can result in significant over or undercharging. 

Guidance on how to take an accurate meter reading, depending on the type of meter in your educational setting is available below.

You will need the following information when submitting your meter reading:

  • The postcode that NIE associate with your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN); and
  • Your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN), this is a unique 11-digit number which relates to the Electricity supply going into your property. It is unique to individual premises and the first 2 digits are always 81.

Submitting your meter reading is a quick and easy process and you can use the link below.

NI Electricity - Submit Your Meter Reading

Contact information

If you require any further support in relation to your NHH meter reading please contact NIE at [email protected] or telephone 03456 093 030.

Display Energy Certificates (DECs)

Display Energy Certificates (DECs) are required for Schools and other EA sites with a total useful floor area of more than 250m² and are valid for one year.

DECs show the actual Energy Consumption of a public building and associated CO2 levels and provide an Energy Rating of the building from A to G, where A is very efficient and G is the least efficient.

The Advisory Report accompanying the DEC is valid for seven years. It contains advice to help improve Energy Management, reduce consumption and CO2 emissions and contains recommendations for improving the energy performance of a building.

Further information is available from the Department of Finance on the following link:

Display Energy Certificates | Department of Finance

Renewable Obligation Scheme (ROCs) Payments (for Schools with Solar PV Systems installed)

  • The Renewable Obligation Scheme (ROCs) was designed to encourage the generation of Electricity from renewable sources in the UK. The scheme came into effect in 2005 in Northern Ireland and closed to all new generating capacity in April 2017. PV schemes installed before the cut off in most cases will still generate ROCs payments for up to ten more years. This is an additional form of income for a school.
  • Payments are issued on an annual basis to accredited Renewable Energy Generators (Schools) for every kWh of electricity they produce. The scheme is administered by Ofgem on behalf of the government.
  • ROCs payments are administered by the EA and money is paid to Schools on an annual basis where they qualify for a ROCs scheme.

Useful links for schools – providing teaching and learning resources on Energy savings

  • The Energy Saving Trust – Provides teaching and learning resources including an energy saving challenge for Schools.
  • Northern Ireland Water - Provides resources and educational materials on water conservation and wastewater management in Northern Ireland schools. 
  • Eco-Schools Northern Ireland - Offers a range of resources, case studies, and guidance to schools on environmental topics, including energy conservation, waste reduction, and biodiversity.
  • Eco-schools has a commitment for 100% of Northern Ireland’s primary schools to achieve their Green Flag status. This programme, in grant funding the Eco-schools Energy topic, has the potential to deliver education and awareness to all Northern Ireland’s schools at both primary and secondary level. If you would like more information on the Schools’ Energy Programme please contact Gemma Cowles, Programme Manager, [email protected]
  • Action Renewables - Offers resources and support for schools on renewable energy, including education programs, workshops, and information on solar, wind, and hydro energy. 
  • Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful - Provides resources, information, and guidance on various environmental topics, including waste management, recycling, and biodiversity conservation.
  • Ulster Wildlife - Provides resources and educational materials on biodiversity conservation, wildlife habitats, and nature reserves in Northern Ireland. 
  • Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) - Offers resources, case studies, and tools to support waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability initiatives in schools. 
  • The Woodland Trust - Provides resources, activities, and information on woodland conservation, tree planting, and biodiversity for schools in Northern Ireland. 
  • The Northern Ireland Sustainable Schools Initiative (NISSI) - Offers resources, case studies, and guidance on sustainable practices, including energy conservation. Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland - Provides educational resources, campaigns, and information on environmental issues, including energy conservation, waste reduction, and biodiversity protection. 
  • Recycle Now - Offers resources, games, and information on recycling and waste reduction for schools in the UK, including Northern Ireland. 
Last updated: 20/12/2023