Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on managing your HVAC power usage even when the weather drops well below freezing. Last time we talked about lighting, insulation, thermostats, and maintenance. Join us today as we pick up at a company-wide blanket policy to help lower your school’s energy bill.
Even with considerate and careful temperature maintenance inside the building, there will always be people who wind up in an unusually cold section of the building or are more physically susceptible to cold than their classmates or colleagues. For students or staff that are struggling to remain comfortable during the winter, you can implement special winter policies that encourage everyone to stay warm while keeping the energy bill down. Relaxing the dress code to include fluffy warm sweaters is a great starting point; and by encouraging teachers to keep a cabinet of blankets or even serve hot drinks in classrooms, you can reduce the cost of personal space heaters throughout the building.
Many businesses don’t expect to worry about their windows for the entirety of the winter season. After all, there’s not a lot to look at out there other than snow and bare trees. However, you can recover a notable portion of your energy bill from sunlight whether or not you have solar panels. By allowing windows to let in a little warming sunshine, you can keep external rooms and offices a little warmer; but only if your windows are clean enough to actually let the light in. Consider getting a professional window cleaning to make sure that every channel for sunlight has the best possible chance for warming your hallways and classrooms.
Of course, due to the shorter daylight hours and the occasional bad weather, it can’t be sunny all the time. Everyone knows wintertime darkness can suck the heat out of absolutely everything; even your energy bill can give you the chills. For the dark and stormy times, closing a thick collection of thermally insulating curtains can keep the cold from pouring in through your window glass. This ensures that your students and staff in external rooms don’t immediately turn into icicles when the sun isn’t shining.
Most modern classrooms feature an efficient tight-weave carpet in understated patterns. Carpet is fantastic for the wintertime because airflow through the loops prevents the floor from holding either heat or cold. Tiles, on the other hand, can hold and spread cold with great efficiency. (This depends on the material of the tiles and if they are insulated underneath from ambient cold between floors.) In the coldest parts of your school with tiled floors, consider throwing down a few large area rugs. This will increase insulation and reduce the chill in these rooms (and lower your energy bill).
The amount of power your HVAC unit requires to maintain a comfortable temperature depends greatly on the amount of space you need to heat up. This means that every room you warm contributes to the effort and cost of heating the entire building. Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy way to make sure unused rooms don’t take up hot air they don’t need. Simply close the vents. This will keep hot air flowing through the ducts until it finds a room with open vents to warm up.
Manually opening and closing vents can be effective for small schools; but if you are a larger school with many potentially in or out of use vents, you may want to invest in smart vents that can be programmed remotely to open or close at the right times or when a room is scheduled for use.
Keeping your business energy budget within acceptable margins is more challenging than many schools are prepared for, especially during harsh cold snaps. Not only do you need to worry about a bigger energy budget, it’s also time to start thinking seriously about how to make your school much more energy efficient. With the addition of a little extra weatherstripping, window treatments, and energy smart policies, you’ll soon see that outrageous winter energy bill start to drop back down to normal expectations. With these tips you’ll be able to keep your classrooms and offices warm and your energy bill low in style.
For more tips on how to make your school more energy efficient, contact us today!