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Lessons in Energy Efficiency Bring Immediate Savings

WP Beenleigh

At a time when power costs are soaring in most schools, a Queensland high school has bucked the trend reducing its electricity cost per student by over 13% when this cost was growing on average by 18% in other schools..

Concerned by the rate electricity consumption and demand was climbing in schools and the upward pressure this was putting on operating budgets, the Queensland Department of Education and Training engaged with the Energy Solutions team at ERM Power to see what could be done to curb the problem.

Starting with comprehensive data analysis and energy assessments, the trial looked at how and where the schools were consuming electricity and then recommended energy efficiency and demand management solutions to turn the tide on rising costs.

As a retailer devoted to helping customers better manage their energy consumption, ERM Power was well positioned to deliver an end-to-end solution covering design, supply, installation and support.

The trial found that savings were not only achievable, they can be immediate, sizable and enduring.

The solution

Implementation of Beenleigh SHS’s energy efficiency program occurred in two phases.

The first phase involved monitoring consumption in near real time and providing demand alerts via ERM Power’s Demand Tracker software to encourage behavioural moderation at the school when consumption was peaking.

The Energy Solutions team armed staff with information to help them better understand their electricity charges and an action plan for making quick and easy energy savings.

The second phase involved implementing a tailored energy efficiency upgrade to reduce the energy consumption of the school’s air conditioning systems, lighting and hot water systems.

To reduce the air conditioning load, ERM Power installed:

  • heat reflective roof coating to four school buildings already earmarked for roof maintenance;
  • air conditioning occupancy sensors in five rooms; and
  • thermostat controls in multiple air conditioning units.

As the energy audit highlighted inefficient fluorescent lighting as a significant contributor to the school’s peak demand, the lighting solution focused on replacing these with highly efficient LEDs.

To reduce the contribution of hot water systems to peak demand, ERM Power installed timers on multiple hot water heaters. This also ensured that water heating occurred during off peak hours at cheaper energy rates.

The benefits

Through the initial phase of the program, by switching off lights and air conditioners in unused parts of the school and other small actions, Beenleigh SHS was able to keep their chargeable kVA demand down, saving about $10,000 across the summer months in the process.

The improvement in demand and consumption in phase two resulted in actual bill savings of almost $4,000 per month over a year.

“We were amazed by the level of savings achieved in such a short time and are confident we can continue the good work started by ERM Power to keep our energy costs down,” said Beenleigh SHS Business Services Manager Christine McCarthy. “The ensuing savings will inevitably be passed on to our students and teachers in the form of improvements to facilities and additional teaching resources.”

“Absolutely nothing was too much trouble. We were always kept in the loop and given the opportunity to customise improvements to best suit our requirements,” Ms McCarthy said.

To read the full case study, click here.