School energy matters

Use ICT equipment efficiently

Using ICT equipment comes hand in hand with using energy. However, there are some things that you can do at your school to reduce the amount of energy ICT consumes.

Each school has a different ICT set up, therefore the guidance below is only general. We recommend that you work with your school’s ICT representative when considering how and when you should switch off your ICT.

  1. Management of your school
  2. Switching off routine
  3. Useful switching off tips
  4. Exceptions to switching off ICT
  5. Power save options
  6. Screen savers
  7. Equipment
  8. Data
  9. Usage
  10. Advice and guidance

Management of your school

Your knowledge of how your school buildings and ICT equipment are used throughout the academic year is crucial. Schools tend to be used at different times during the week, including evening and weekends.

Switch off equipment but not at the expense of disrupting the smooth running of your school. For example, a central power down of ICT after the school day could disrupt any after school clubs that take place on certain days.

Switching off routine

Power save options do work, but not as well as switching equipment off and the effort is worth it.

If equipment is definitely not going to be needed overnight or at the weekend, it does save energy and money, and consequently cuts carbon emissions, if it is switched off. Most modern ICT equipment is designed to be switched on and off each day. In general, these types of device tend to be:

  • screens

  • desktop PCs - ensure that no local data is stored that may backed up to the server overnight

  • printers

  • scanners

  • video conferencing equipment

  • audio visual equipment

Useful switching off tips

  • Identify which ICT equipment can or can’t be switched off each day.

  • Label any equipment that you think maybe switched off that should not be, to avoid well meaning accidents.

  • Switch your equipment off using the on/off switch on the equipment itself. Using the on switch next to the power plug sends a small surge of energy to the equipment. The equipment is likely to last longer, in particular the inbuilt power pack, if this can be avoided where possible.

  • Give responsibility to your students and teachers to switch off certain equipment each night.

  • Kill switches, which are timers that switch off the electricity supply from a specific plug, can be useful in some circumstances. For example, laptop charging stations need to be on for so many hours to charge the laptop, however for the rest of the night or weekend they are using standby energy levels when a kill switch could mean they are using no energy. However the laptops do have to be off, in that they are not being used for anything other than being charged, otherwise the kill switch will cause more problems than it solves.

  • Screens can be switched off over lunch times or during empty periods, particularly as modern screens come back on so quickly and smoothly.

Exceptions to switching off ICT

Some ICT equipment is meant to be left on all the time. This includes anything that supports a 24 hour service, such as virus checking, web software, backups or restores, and alternative power supplies in case the mains power is lost. Sometimes this equipment is kept in a secure place, other times it is labelled as "do not switch off".

Occasionally when large updates to software are issued, your school will be asked to leave your equipment on overnight. This usually means you will be contacted directly and given a time frame.

Devices that you should avoid switching off overnight are:

  • servers

  • tape backup units

  • switch cabinets

  • Network Attached Storage(NAS) devices

  • MFD (Multifunctional Devices) - these often download updates overnight, and usually have excellent power saving features anyway

  • CCTV control units

  • Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS)

Power save options

Most new ICT equipment comes with power save options installed, also called hibernate, standby or sleep mode. It will be switched on as default, however, it is worth changing the setting to a level that suits your school’s needs rather than keeping to the original factory setting.

Look at your school’s whole range of ICT equipment including screens, printers, laptops, PCs and overhead projectors. Older equipment many not have power save options as default so check that it is switched on.

Decide how long you want the power save options on for. Equipment used for presenting during lessons may need a longer power save option than other PCs, printers and screens.

Check with your ICT colleagues if there are any central power saving options that can be applied to lots of equipment in one sweep, rather than you having to alter each piece of equipment.

Screen savers

Screens savers were used originally to prevent text from being burnt onto the screen. Nowadays power save options do this instead. Screen savers were also sometimes to provide password protection. Other security systems provide this service.

As a result, screen savers are not as necessary as they used to be. Some are also very active which can prevent power save options from kicking in. It is worth changing these as ultimately they will use more energy.  

Equipment

Manufacturers are getting a lot better at reducing the energy consumption of equipment, so new is usually less energy consuming than old. Although that is not enough of a reason to get rid of old.

As laptops are designed to run from batteries they have lean energy use built in to start with, therefore they are more efficient than PCs.

Data

Regular housekeeping of data reduces the amount of space required to store and back it up. Which reduces the amount or size of equipment to do that, which reduces the power consumption and costs.

For example attachments in emails are often duplicates of files saved elsewhere, multiplied by the number of colleagues the email is sent to, multiplied by the number of emails with attachments each term. This means there is potential for savings, just by housekeeping.

Usage

Think before you print, scan, fax etc. Setting up your ICT so that it creates a review of what you are about to send to the printer will save costs in energy, paper and your effort to save energy and costs.

Everything you do makes a small but worthwhile difference, not only to the energy consumption of your ICT equipment, but also the amount of air cooling and conditioning that is needed in certain rooms. Setting a practical example to your students may also help them to be energy conscious with the equipment they may have at home or use in the future.

Advice and guidance

If you would like advice and guidance on your school's ICT, contact your school’s ICT representative in the first instance. Alternatively, contact Hampshire County Council’s IT Help Desk or call 01962 847007.

More information

If you would like more information about energy saving when using ICT equipment, or your would like to send us your ideas on how to save energy, email energy@hants.gov.uk