As everyone in education is all too painfully aware, frozen budgets and rising costs have conspired to put schools and academies under increased financial pressure and led to cost-cutting measures. In some cases, this has even led to a shorter school week, in a bid to save on teachers’ salaries.
Energy consumption though is one area where cutbacks are positive, in that the less energy you consume the lower your energy bills will be. That said, few academics will profess to be experts on energy management issues, or have the time to dedicate hours to understanding the complexities of the energy market, which is where external agencies such as Wiltshire-based Energy Management LLP can step in to help. We always say that the cheapest unit of energy is the one you never use.
In our experience a secondary school of around 1500 pupils will spend approximately £100,000 a year on gas and electricity, with heating accounting for roughly half, and up to five percent of that overall figure could be down to billing errors alone. It may come as a surprise to people outside of the energy industry but around one in five of the invoices that we handle on our clients’ behalf are wrong.
Whether it’s down to inaccurate meter readings, ‘fat fingers’ inputting the data incorrectly or wrongly applied CCL and VAT charges, it’s a fact that customers often pay more than they should for their energy - or pay for energy they have not consumed. We have trained eyes that can shine a light on these errors and put right quickly.
Implementation of relatively straightforward energy efficiency measures can save schools money too. Indeed, a recent report by the Carbon Trust reveals that UK schools could collectively reduce energy costs by around £44 million a year.
For under-pressure schools there could finally be some light – LED, of course – at the end of the tunnel. Our highly qualified and experienced engineers review a site’s energy usage, from lighting, heating, boiler system management to air conditioning, and find traditional and innovative - but always sensible - ways of reducing energy costs.
Like any business or organisation, schools can grow. Residential development within the school’s catchment area, for example, may lead to an increase in pupil numbers and place existing facilities under pressure. Increasing the energy supply to an existing site or changing premises altogether if the current site has outgrown its use, can come with problems - and a huge amount of paperwork.
At Energy Management, we pride ourselves in our ability to manage such situations and agree the best terms and conditions with energy suppliers to ensure that clients are not caught out by such a change in circumstances.
We once acted on behalf of a manufacturing company in Northern Ireland that made the decision to close one of its struggling factories halfway through its energy contract. Punitive break clauses meant they stood to pay out over £1m in compensation, but thanks to the excellent relationship we had with the supplier concerned, and the leverage this bought us, the slate was wiped entirely clean.
If you would like to know how we can save energy within your school, organisation and business, please get in touch on 01225-867722