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  • Turn off lights when you're not using them. Lighting accounts for nearly 50% of the electric bill in most schools. If you're leaving the room for any amount of time, turn off the lights!
    • Create a student energy patrol to ensure lights are out when rooms are empty. Students can make rounds to check classrooms, the cafeteria, auditorium, etc. 
    • Use GEF's templates to make reminder plates for your light switches and thermostats.
    • Don't block light switches with furniture. Place new light switches where people can find them and reach them.
  • Remove unneeded light fixtures near windows, especially in unused corners or along banks of windows. 
    • Have students conduct an experiment in the classroom by turning off selected banks of lights and surveying occupant comfort at different lighting levels. Often, occupants prefer working under natural light.
  • Use energy efficient compact flourescent light bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
    • Have students calculate the energy savings achieved by replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs and changing incandescent lights in Exit Signs to LED bulbs.  Use GEF's school lighting audit and hallway lighting audit

Heating and Cooling

  • passive heating and coolingInvestigate passive heating and cooling techniques to reduce the need for HVAC equipment. In the graphic to the right, the home is kept cooler because nearby vegetation blocks the summer sun. In the winter, the tree has shed its leaves so sun is able to enter through the windows. 
  • A rule of thumb: consider setting the thermostat at 68 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling. Using fans can make people feel much cooler and is much less expensive and energy intensive than air conditioning. 
  • If classrooms or other areas of the school are cold or drafty, find out why and fix the problem. Students, administrators and teachers can work together to solve the problem.
    • Don't block the airflow around vents. Keep bookcases and other bulky items away from the heating and cooling units so they don't block and/or absorb the warm (or cool) air that should be coming into the room. 
    • Install programmable thermostats in areas like the cafeteria to minimize operating hours of the heating and cooling systems during low occupancy periods. 
    • Turn down the heat in the hallways and then keep classroom doors closed. Otherwise, the heat runs down the hall and outside, where it's wasted to the outdoors. 
    • Clean furnace filters regularly. 
  • Stop leaks!! Look for simple draft beating strategies
    • Have students determine areas of energy loss by using 'draftmeters' made from plastic wrap and pencils to study where drafts are coming in. 
    • Avoid infiltration in conditioned spaces. Students can help make 'insulation snakes' to put at the bottom of doors and windows. 
    • Work with facility staff to install permanent weather stripping, caulking, and insulation. 


  • Energy Star LogoIf your computers have power-management features, make sure controls are set to go into 'sleep' mode when not in active use. Screen savers don't save energy - only being in sleep mode or turned off can save energy. 
  • Students should turn off monitors that will not be used for the next class period. All computer equipment should be turned off at the end of the day and on weekends.
    • Form a student energy patrol to make sure monitors are off when computers are not in use and to turn computers off at the end of the day.
  • If you're purchasing new computers, save 50% on energy costs by using Energy Star computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, copiers and other equipment. 


  • Maintain appliances and replace old appliances
    • Have students use a watt meter to study how much electricity devices use. This is useful in determining which appliances are outdated and less efficient. 
    • Students can conduct a survey of the number of appliances in each classroom and encourage teachers to take away or unplug unneeded appliances. 
  • Clean refrigerator coils regularly

Source: Alliance to Save Energ