A lockdown lesson in switching off: more can be done!

A thorough switch-off at night of all non-essential appliances is the way to find out how low an organisation’s energy consumption can go. This sets the true base-load. Lockdown was a great opportunity to see if those ‘true’ baseloads were being achieved.

Posted on 21 July 2020.

By comparing energy data during lockdown with data from an organised switch-off to establish electrical  base-load, we have found that many organisations are leaving on non-essential appliances and equipment – either because they are missed or because staff get used to leaving them on.

In some instances, previous baseloads were ‘smashed’ during lockdown.

One of our consultants has worked with an independent school since 2018 to monitor and reduce their energy consumption.  

In February 2018 the school was asked to undertake a ‘switch off’ to establish the minimum overnight base-load. A thorough ‘switch off’ on a mid-week day over half term was undertaken. This is shown on the first graph – the orange line (the gap is the day time activity of the school day from support staff). Also plotted are the average values in any of the 48 30-minute intervals that make up a day.  (The slight rise is from support staff and key worker children still attending in April. There is a gradual increase and then drop at the end of the school day when items are turned off.

However this graph indicates that further savings could be made on the pre lockdown end of day practices.  The blue line – lockdown - indicates that previous switch off events must still have had many items left on that perhaps were not needed through the evening and night. Overnight baseload could potentially be much, much lower than the usual recorded values.

The lockdown base load is half that previously achieved during a concerted effort to shut down. If this new baseload was met every night between 7pm and 7am there would be an additional £5,800 saved. This is from no investment costs!

We then looked at lockdown stats compared to the average of the whole of the previous 12 months.

The second graph shows the minimum consumption values recorded in the 30-minute intervals, in the 12 months prior to lock-down. The blue line is the average value since the school was closed to non-essential staff during lock-down and the grey line is the new lowest values. The minimum consumption values recorded in the 12 months prior to lock down, shown in red, reveals that again the previous switch off in 2018 was higher than the minimum for the 2019/20 Financial Year, indicating that more could have been turned off on that night.

Additionally it shows that there is some variation still with the overnight shut down of the school as the minimum values are lower than the average consumption.

We estimate that with a more rigorous overnight switch-off routine, a further £5,800 pa could be saved which equates to 12.8% of the bill on this supply if the lockdown low becomes the new low. This is on top of the 11% reduction the 2018 Switch off was against the average of 2017.

This is one school with a modest energy spend.  If this lesson is applied widely to larger organisations, the potential savings in costs and emissions could be substantial.  

If you would like to discuss how to reduce your energy consumption with one of our experts, please call 0800 6127 567 or email George.richards@jrpsolutions.com.