Newsletter 6 – 12 December 2017

Remember to switch off your school’s heating and hot water for the Christmas holidays. But don’t forget frost protection!

Reviewing the Energy Sparks data, last Christmas holidays, almost every school taking part in Energy Sparks had their heating running on full on Boxing Day as if it was a normal Monday in term time. Can you make a difference this year, and save your school money?

Across Primary Schools in Bath and NE Somerset, about 17% of energy is used in the school holidays. This is a combination of:

  1. Frost protection. Overly pessimistic or faulty frost protection. It is recommended that frost protection settings at all schools are reviewed reducing weekend and holiday demand. Depending on school’s insulation levels, an internal setting of 8°C, is recommended with an outside temperature setting of 4°C where relevant. 

  2. Heating left on for legitimate reasons, but generally only for partial occupancy for 1 or 2 staff members. Where zone controls are fitted only heat those zones that are occupied and need heating in the school holidays. Consider using electric fan heaters for offices occupied in the school holidays rather than heating the whole school.

  3. Heating left on accidentally, because staff don’t know how to work the controls, or forget to switch it off. Many school boiler controllers allow the programming of a year’s worth of holidays in advance. Where possible this should be programmed at the start of the school year. Otherwise, ask your caretaker to switch off heating manually, except frost protection, at the end of term. Don’t forget to turn any storage radiators down to frost protection only.

  4. Hot water heating left running. Ask your caretaker to switch off your hot water boilers or tanks. They may need to remember to check in toilets, kitchens, and washing-up areas for individual hot water tanks if you don’t have a centralised hot water system.

Get your pupils involved in reviewing the Energy Sparks data for last Christmas holiday ( and talking to the caretaker about turning off the heating and hot water this year ( They can record their involvement as Energy Sparks activities to earn more points.

Pupils investigate how much energy their families use at home

You may like to use the Christmas holidays to improve general awareness and engagement in energy and environmental issues by extending your Energy Sparks activities to pupils’ homes. 

The Energy Sparks activity description provides a questionnaire for pupils to investigate their family’s approach to saving energy. The questionnaire provides some brief background information on why we should save energy and the Energy Sparks project, and then prompts pupils to look at their energy use at home.

In January your Energy team could collate the responses to the questionnaires, and use the results to help them plan a campaign to influence the wider school community to save energy at home as well as in school.

New Energy Sparks Blog

We have created a new Energy Sparks Blog where we will post back copies of newsletters, and regular suggestions of energy saving activities and interventions to try with pupils. In the New Year we will be exploring giving schools access to the blog to share resources and best practice. You can also use the Blog to access our signposting of educational resources, lesson plans and teaching material grouped by source, media, topic and subject:

Posted in Newsletters.