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Page last updated: 31/01/2023

Essex County Council have a team of School Energy Surveyors who are visiting all maintained schools completing energy audits. They aim to help schools identify opportunities for carbon reduction and improved energy efficiency throughout their school.

Often a fresh perspective can help site managers, cleaners, kitchen staff, teachers and business managers understand opportunities to reduce their energy usage. The team will also share best practice between schools – enabling everyone to benefit from each other's expertise – helping all schools on their path to becoming a zero-carbon site. 

The team can help schools obtain, analyse and understand their energy data; allowing them to see the potential energy and cost savings associated with suggested initiatives.

The team will also document all heating and hot water equipment, assessing suitability for grant funded upgrades – putting opportunities “on the shelf" for future funding applications – such as the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme.

Contact to book a school energy survey with the team.​

Devolved Formula Capital – Additional Funding/Energy Efficiency

Essex County Council have now received the allocation for schools for the Devolved Formula Capital – Additional Funding in relation to Energy Efficiency. A communication will be issued detailing how the funds are to be distributed and guidance. To find out how much your school will be receiving please visit the Government’s website by clicking here. Aided schools will receive funding through the Diocese and academies will receive funding directly.

The following guidance has been given in relation to this funding: You must spend this funding on capital projects, prioritising projects that improve your school estate’s energy efficiency. For example, installing better heating controls, insulation to reduce heat loss from pipes or switching to energy efficient lighting like LEDs. The DfE expects you to spend the funding in the financial year 2022 to 2023. However, normal terms of devolved formula capital apply (i.e. it must be spent in the year of allocation or the two following years). The DfE have published an energy efficiency guide for schools which  provides more information on how to reduce energy consumption, cost and emissions.

During the energy audit, our surveyors will be able to assess the most beneficial projects for the new DfE's energy efficiency allocation.

Quick Wins

Here are a few examples of the discoveries which can come from an energy survey. The following adjustments are easy and usually free but could be contributing to a large % of the final bills. According to Energy Sparks, an energy education charity, approximately 45% of school's electricity use is consumed out of school hours, when most school buildings are largely unoccupied. Optimising your buildings energy use at weekends and over holiday periods is key in managing your energy costs:

Time clocks and kitchen equipment – Staff responsibility​

  • ​Are radiators free of obstruction?

    • ​Shelving, desks, coats and furniture etc against a radiator block heat from being properly distributed throughout the room.

  • ​Are time clocks for point of use hot water heaters set up for weekend and holiday shutdown?

    • They do not need to be on 24/7. Check with a site manager whether it is safe to power these down completely over weekends and holidays. If a classroom has a point of use water heater, consider whether there is a need for hot water in the classroom at all.

  • Does your site manager align the heating and hot water times to school opening hours?

    • ​Reducing heating by 1 hour a day can equate to a 10% reduction in bills, while reducing heating by 1⁰C can reduce bills a further 10%.

  • Have you engaged with your cleaners and kitchen staff?       

    • Hot water, gas ovens, extractor fans are all large energy consumers. Reducing their usage by an hour a day can have a large impact on your daily energy cost. 

  • Do you defrost your freezers over the summer holidays?    

    • Regular defrosting, use of commercial rather than domestic fridges/freezers, picnic days and holiday switch off have been successful policies in other school kitchens.

  • Do you have Thermostatic radiator valves (TRV's) on the majority of radiators?         

    • ​TRV's should be maintained so settings can be adjusted. Consider turning TRVs off/on-low in rooms that easily overheat or aren't used often.

Equipment – Staff and students' responsibility

  • Is any electrical equipment left switched on 24/7, even on standby mode? 

    • For example, large storage chargers, projectors, SMART Board, printers and computers. consider purchasing smart plugs for large IT equipment. This way you can ensure equipment is on 7-day timers, programmed to shut down at weekends. Equipment that needs to be charged can be timed to do so in during your cheaper 'night rate' tariff.

  • Have you done a printer/photocopier audit?

    • Can the number of printers/photocopiers needed be reduced by simply moving the equipment to more common/shared areas?

  • Do you use the window blinds to maximum effect?  

    • Ensure they are open to allow sunlight and heat into the classroom, instead of using overhead lights, when possible. During winter closing blinds overnight, this will stop cold draughts from entering the room and limit heat loss through the windows. During summer, this will prevent any unwanted solar gain.

  • Are there any draughty areas, particularly classroom windows and doors? 

    • Consider purchasing draught strips/seals. These self-adhesive foam strips or brushes will reduce heat loss and can prevent the need for additional heating.

Lighting – Staff and students' responsibility

  • Do you have switch off stickers on main classroom lighting?               

    • Labelling light switches with usage stickers helps reduced unnecessarily usage; 'Red' for lights not to be turned on during daylight hours and 'green' for those ok for normal use.

  • Has LED lighting been installed, or included as part of the maintenance programme?    

    • The Energy Savings Trust estimate You can save £2-3 per year for every traditional halogen bulb you switch to a similarly bright LED bulb.

  • Do you have motion or absence detection sensors in use for circulation areas, toilets, or other less commonly used areas?        

    • These can be retrofitted when replacing old lighting for LED and can make your building more efficient. They can commonly be adjusted to switch off after 5,10 or 30 minutes of inactivity.

Energy monitors – Student engagement

  • Do you have an appointed light/energy monitor for each room?       

    • This student/staff member will ensure the projector, lights and electrical equipment are switched off during break, lunch and at the end of the day. The same students/staff members can take regular meter reads to quantify the differences they are making.

  • Is there is an end of day/term switch off protocol where staff and students unplug electrical equipment? 

    • There has been a lot of success in other schools when unplugging kitchen equipment like fridges over holidays, moving produce to a single unit. 

  • Have you accessed any sustainable resources to tie into the curriculum i.e. 2imprezs/Energy Challenge?             

    • ​An international challenge enabling pupils to become the 'owner of the school's energy bill' - children are challenged to campaign, in their own way, for energy savings in their school by doing surveys & monitoring; understanding how different equipment/lighting uses energy; and leading on changing behaviours. This could also include travel to school behaviours. There are opportunities to network with schools in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany and try a new Virtual reality game with VR glasses. If you would like more information please refer to the schools pack here or contact .

There are many organisations which can help to plan and measure the success of these quick wins while involving students:

Better Planet Schools​

This is a platform which provides schools with fully equipped modules on energy, nature, biodiversity and waste to integrate into the curriculum. This is a great compliment to Energy Challenge and Energy Sparks, allowing students to understand the positive impact of their engagement. Upon sign up, selecting 'ECC' as a sponsor will grant access to the resources at no cost to the school.

Energy Sparks

An online, school specific, energy analysis tool. It collects and analyses smart meter data showing how your school uses energy during the week, on weekends and throughout holidays. It then produces tailored energy savings advice which can be used to engage students. On average schools save 10% on their bills and reduce their output of by 8 tonnes of CO2 within the first year of engagement.

Salix F​unding​

Salix Finance Limited provides government allocated funding for public sector energy efficiency and carbon reduction. They are the main funding stream facilitating targets to become net-zero by 2050.

As and when the funding is released, ECC submits joint bids for its core and school estate. Currently, there are two schemes which Essex buildings are eligible for, the Low Carbon Skills Fund (LCSF) and Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). Please see brief descriptions of the programmes below.


This grant provides schools with the funding to create a heat decarbonisation plan. This can cover the costs of low carbon feasibility, heat loss calculations, building surveys and energy analysis. It allows schools to take the first steps towards a low-carbon future; creating a timeline and detailed plan on how to achieve full heat decarbonisation. Completing a LCSF project puts buildings in good stead for subsequent PSDS applications.


This provides funding to schools with heating systems that are at the end of their working lives with imminent need for replacement. PSDS is aimed at taking a 'whole building' approach to heat decarbonisation, combining heat decarbonisation with energy efficiency measures. Our current PSDS projects typically include the replacement of gas/oil boilers with an air/ground source heat pump, a solar PV array to offset the electric needed to power such a pump, insulation and/or LED lighting. To apply for the funds ECC need to commit the like-for-like costs of installing a typical gas plant replacement.

Participating in a school energy survey will be the best way to ensure we have your school's data to hand if you become eligible for such schemes in the future. 

This funding is available to all maintained schools. Academies would have to access the funding through a separate route.

Local authority-maintained schools can find out more about Salix on the Salix Finance - Maintained Schools and Sixth Form website.  

Academies can find out more about Salix by accessing the Academies section of the Salix Finance website.   

If you would like to know more about the funding available, please contact us at