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Schools offered help to save energy dollars

Schools offered help to save energy dollars

The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has revealed huge differences between the amounts that schools pay for their energy, and has offered to help high spenders find savings.

The big spenders were identified through both their per pupil spend and the total dollar amount spent on energy and water. A significant bill is one in excess of $20,000 per annum.

John Boyd, EECA's Acting Chief Executive, says the schools sector spends $30 million per year on energy and 13 percent of schools overspent their allocation in 2001. "It seems there is a significant sum of money going into energy bills, which could be going into books or sports equipment."

EECA uncovered the education sector's 'big spenders' in a recent analysis of the Ministry of Education's database of the energy and water expenditure of New Zealand's secondary and primary schools for 2001. This is the beginning of a regular analysis of the sector's energy use by EECA.

In secondary schools, the per pupil cost of energy and water varied from $10 to $220 per pupil, with an average of $66 in the North Island and $78 in the South Island. The big spenders were spread throughout the country in Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Central North Island, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

In primary schools, the per pupil cost of energy and water varied from $7 to $120 per pupil, with an average of $43 for the North Island and $61 for the South Island. The big spenders were in Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury.

EECA has written to the 41 biggest spending primary and secondary schools recommending that the school get an energy audit done to identify potential areas of cost saving. EECA will pay for half of the audit cost and has loans available for schools to cover the cost of any energy saving improvements.

"Our experience from working with businesses is that cost savings can be made quite easily. It's a matter of taking simple steps, but many schools may not know what these steps are.

"An energy audit will not only identify energy savings opportunities for schools, it will also look into the type of contract schools are on for the supply of energy and whether a more cost effective contract could be arranged.

"There may be reasons why one school's bill is so much higher than other schools - such as community night classes, boarding accommodation or heating for a large school swimming pool. Some schools had difficulties with energy contracts for a short period in 2001 and this could have had a small impact on their annual total but the only way to know is by doing an energy audit.

"Efficient use of energy is smart management. The level of spending by some schools suggests that with good advice they will be able to divert more money into more productive parts of their operation," Mr Boyd said.

Mr Boyd said EECA is working to change the way New Zealanders think about and use energy by promoting and supporting the uptake of energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.

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