As the first half of the 2021-22 school year comes to a close, it may be time to evaluate your school’s energy usage and consider options for improving energy efficiency. In the US, K-12 public school districts spend more on energy than computers and textbooks combined at $6 billion spent annually on energy costs. Public schools can improve energy efficiency while lowering operating costs by integrating renewable energy into their facilities. Five renewable energy options available for public schools to take advantage of are outlined below.
1. Solar Panels
Installing solar panels, whether in the form of a solar carport, ground mount array or rooftop array, is one way public schools can lower electric demand costs. Onsite power generated from sunlight with the help of solar panels will lower the amount of power you’ll need to pull from the local grid.
2. Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Using a combined heat and power (CHP) unit in your school to convert natural gas to power will save money on your utility bills. Many public schools currently use natural gas heating instead of electric. Natural gas is cheaper than the cost of electricity from a retail provider. Therefore, making the switch to electric heating by using existing infrastructure to convert natural gas into electricity with a CHP unit is a viable and cost-effective option.
3. Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps will reduce heating and cooling costs at your school. They work by pulling heat stored in the ground into your school during the winter and cold air from the ground stored in the summer. These pumps will reduce your utility bills by minimizing demand on your HVAC units. HVAC units at schools tend run daily, even when the buildings are unoccupied, and drive up electric demand charges (the most expensive component of electric bills). By minimizing demand on HVAC units, geothermal heat pumps will also lower these bills.
4. Battery Storage
Battery energy storage systems will allow your school to store energy from solar panels. This will give your facility access to backup power in times of emergency, or, if used in combination with solar panels, in times when the sun is not shining. When not being used, generated power is stored throughout the day for use in case of emergency or for use at peak load times, which will reduce your school’s peak demand charges and contribute to overall utility savings.
5. Demand Management Controls
Demand management controls will allow your school to better regulate the usage of generated power and HVAC units. These systems are particularly advantageous if your school has installed solar panels and upgraded HVAC units. With pre-programmed algorithms based on your building’s utility history, demand management systems will administer power to where it’s needed most. It will also power HVAC units on and off at optimal times while keeping indoor temperatures comfortable.
EnergyLink’s Public School Energy Services
EnergyLink offers public school energy services, which include a funding program, with the goal of lowering energy costs and freeing up funds for public schools across the nation. These services were founded by EnergyLink in 2020 as a response to education budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding program will connect school district with investors interested in renewable energy projects and facilitate a third party ownership financing model that presents virtually no risk to the school district.
If you would like to get started with this program, click the link below to sign up and start your journey to a more efficient and cost-effective education facility. If you would like to speak with an EnergyLink team member directly, call (866) 218-0380.