2018/2019 School Year Newsletter 3 – 20th December 2018

Welcome to Sheffield and Frome schools!

Energy Sparks has recently extended to the areas served by Frome Town Council in Somerset and Sheffield City Council. We have now set up 5 schools in Frome, and 10 schools in Sheffield, with more schools to follow in the New Year. Frome schools are currently combined with the Bath and North East Somerset Scoreboard, while Sheffield schools have their own Scoreboard.

We look forward to seeing the new schools and their pupils participate in Energy Sparks, and hope to hear all about their energy saving activities.

Energy Sparks user research and an opportunity to earn a £50 Amazon voucher for yourself

Thank you to schools in Bath and North East Somerset and Frome who participated in our user research and feedback in late November and early December. We received some very valuable feedback on how to improve the Energy Sparks website and education support. One of our first improvements will be a redesigned school home page on Energy Sparks for teachers and adult energy champions with a separate version for pupil users. We hope the new teacher page will provide an initial quick view of:

  • how your school is doing on its energy saving journey,

  • provide on screen alerts of changes in consumption,

  • tailored activities to tackle the biggest energy waste areas for your school,

  • as well as some energy saving insights.

We are also going to turn some of our activities into downloadable lesson plans, with curriculum linked tags to allow teachers to find activities that link with certain curriculum areas. We hope this may lead to Energy Sparks becoming better embedded with your curriculum teaching.

We have recruited some Sheffield schools to provide more user feedback in mid-January, particularly focused on choosing the best designs for the new school home page, reviewing our developing activity resources and lesson plans, and providing feedback on how we can better support schools when they first join Energy Sparks. However, we don’t yet have enough participants involved with this next phase in our user research.

We are therefore looking for teachers in B&NES, Frome and Sheffield who are willing to provide a 45 minute remote interview with our user research company, Paper. The interview will focus on your feedback on:

  • our design ideas for the redeveloped school home page on Energy Sparks,

  • our developed activity resources and lesson plans.

The interview will be carried out via your own laptop, PC or tablet, and can take place at a time to suit you, including evenings from 16-21 January. No advance preparation will be required, and all materials for your review will be provided during the interview. The tight timescales are imposed on us by our funders, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In return for your time participating teachers will receive a £50 Amazon voucher. If you feel you could support us with the ongoing development of Energy Sparks, please do contact us on hello@energysparks.uk by 8th January 2019.

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

Most schools use between 10-20% of their energy 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. 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.

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