School DistrictsIn North America, the word “school” relates to an educational system at any level from preschool to college or university and graduate school. Every school in the United States is monitored and regulated by each state’s Department of Education.

Total Number of Students: 50.1 million
Total – Prekindergarten to Grade 8: 35.2 million
Total – Grade 9 to 12: 14.9 million
Number of Students in Private School: 4.9 million
Employed Full-Time Teachers: 3.1 million
Number of School Districts: 13,500
Number of Public Schools: 98,500
Number of Students in College and University: 20.2 million
Average Annual Cost for College/University Public: $15,640
Average Annual Cost for College/University Private: $40,614

Electricity Rates for Schools, Colleges, etc.

Schools in the United States (on average) were not built to accommodate energy loads of today, especially in elementary and high school buildings. The average age of these buildings is 42 years and they typically consume 10kWh of electricity and 50 cubic feet of natural gas per square feet per year.

As a result, school districts can end up spending a significant amount of budget on energy. For example, in 2008, $1.25/square foot was the average annual rate for energy. Therefore, an 800,000 square foot mid-sized school district paid more than $1 million that year.

Below is a breakdown of how energy is used within the average school (from kindergarten to grade 12) in the United States:

  • Lighting: 26%
  • Cooling: 26%
  • Office Equipment: 20%
  • Other: 10%
  • Ventilation: 5%
  • Refrigeration: 4%
  • Cooking: 1%
  • Water Heating: 1%

For schools in states that are energy deregulated, investigating energy supplier options can offset some of the cost. Energy deregulation allows consumers to pick and choose their retail energy supplier. A retail energy supplier is the organization responsible for supplying energy to residential, industrial or commercial buildings within a particular area. Since there are so many energy retail providers that service the same area, it forces these organizations or companies to ensure that they offer the best rates, prices and services in order to stay competitive and retain customers. Quite often, this results in lower energy bills.

Utilities are still responsible for handling the delivery and maintenance of energy via lines, wires and poles. Depending on the area, there might be more than one energy utility to choose from, each with their own rates as determined by the appropriate organizations.

Energy and Utility Audits for Schools

According to the National Center for Education Studies, from 2012 – 2013, there were a total of 98,454 active public schools in the United States. In 2011 – 2012, there were 30,861 private schools, and from 2012 – 2013 there were 7,253 Postsecondary Title IV institutions in America. Based on this information, it is safe to assume that today, the total number of education specific buildings across all states reaches well over 100,000.

Every single one of the above mentioned schools requires a significant amount of electricity to keep the building running effectively for both teachers and students. In fact, in a report written by Xcel Energy, United State school districts spend about $6 million per year on energy. This includes, lighting, heating, cooling and even appliances.

Quite often, the school’s appointed district is the party responsible for paying electricity bills. Sometimes, the school itself is responsible for picking up the tab. In either case, the generated energy bill must be paid. In order to decrease costs, schools can take advantage of something called a utility audit.

A utility audit requires the school or school district to hire an outside source or party. The outside source must be appropriately trained in conducting this type of audit. The reason for this is because the auditor is required to present the school or school district with a certified report. This report can then be used as proof that the school is eligible for savings.

The audit itself is basically a checklist. The auditor works through the checklist to identify areas where the school or school district can save on their utility costs. In many cases, the audit will reveal past savings that the auditor can have refunded to the school.

Interested in having your school’s (or district’s) energy consumption and usage audited?  Reach out to us today and we’ll get the process started!

Improving Energy Consumption in Schools

To help with the cost of energy, as well as to try and conserve more energy, school districts within the United States are slowly adding improvements to their buildings. School buildings have similar features to warehouses, and office buildings. As this is the case, many features that go into making those types of buildings more energy efficient is also acceptable to apply to schools as well.

Fixing and replacing windows is one of the biggest issues that school buildings face. As the buildings get older, air starts to get through the cracks in the seals. This causes both air generated from air conditioning or heaters to escape. It then requires more energy to heat and cool the building. Keeping doors that lead outside closed is another simple way to ensure that a school building remains more energy efficient.

For schools that have a little bit of budget, replacing equipment is often the best way to improve the energy efficiency of the building. There are many great upgraded products, systems and equipment on the market that are much more energy efficient compared to old HVAC systems, heating pumps, and even office equipment models. Energy Star is a great resource in these circumstances, providing a lot of information on products and associated rebates that can really help to subsidize the cost.