5 Ways to Save Energy at School and Actually Cut Costs

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There may be hidden ways for your school to save energy and slash costs.

When drafting a budget for your next school year, take a closer look at your recurring expenses. There may be creative ways to trim them that you haven’t considered yet.  

We’ve worked with quite a few K-12 school districts, universities and other educational institutions across the Midwest and have found that business technology is an often-overlooked area to create additional efficiencies and save money.

Drawing from our experience, here’s five ways to trim your school’s budget and save money on your energy bills at the same time.

  1. Conduct a needs assessment. You might need fewer printers than you think.
  2. Use print output management software solutions.
  3. Upgrade your lighting to compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.
  4. Update CRT screens to Interactive Whiteboard Displays.
  5. Publicize energy costs and savings. 

CASE STUDY: Racine Unified School District 

1. Conduct a needs assessment. You might need fewer printers than you think.

Office technology has drastically changed within the past five years. Are your copying and printing devices ready for the needs of today’s educators?

A business technology needs assessment will provide a fresh perspective on the health and security of your school’s technology investments. Mapping out your entire network and how it is used can be a real eye-opener.

What you can expect from a business technology needs assessment: 

  • Discover your current technology situation.
  • Identify potential security risks.
  • Learn if your printers and copiers are still a productive investment.
  • See if you could move more applications to the Cloud.
  • Find out if downtime and service costs are breaking your budget. 

Many of our educational customers have learned valuable insights about the current use of their printers and copiers. Often, it is discovered that fewer machines are needed and that current models are more efficient and energy saving than their existing machines. 

2. Use print output management software solutions.

Print output management software solutions can lower both the cost and the environmental impact of printing at your school. These solutions are available in a variety of configurations to fit the needs of your school.

Common solutions typically feature secure or “follow me” printing.

Secure printing allows your users to swipe a security card or enter a passcode to release their print job. This prevents a user from accidentally picking up multiple print jobs, wrongly assuming that all of the printed pages on the output side of the machine are theirs.

“Follow me” printing is similar to secure printing. However, it has the added feature of allowing users to choose which of the networked printers they wish to use, after sending the print job. In this manner, the user can swipe their security card or enter a passcode directly at the networked printer of their choosing.

This might be a printer located down the hall from a teacher’s classroom, on the other side of the building or in another building that is part of the school district’s network. The print job follows the user and prints when and where they want to pick up the printed document.

Both secure printing and “follow me” printing are easy to install and use. They not only help to increase document security; these devices and software assist in eliminating unclaimed print jobs – which will reduce the cost of your school’s paper budget as well! 

CASE STUDY: Marquette University 

3. Upgrade your lighting to compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Updating your lighting can be a great step towards making your building more efficient.

If your building relies on incandescent, halogen, HID or T12 fluorescent bulbs, you’re missing out on significant savings! Consider upgrading to more efficient compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.

Here’s a few quick facts to explain the additional perks of using LED lighting.


  • Provide the same brightness as traditional bulbs but use 90% less energy.
  • Last 15 times longer, which means big financial savings on operations and maintenance.
  • Produce very little heat compared to incandescent bulbs, which release 90% of their energy as heat. 

Installing energy-efficient lighting systems that improve light quality and reduce heat gain is an effective way to reduce the amount of electricity used by your school and also saves money. (And be sure to take advantage of any utility rebates, too!) 

4. Update CRT screens to Interactive Whiteboard Displays.

Traditional CRT computer screens emit a lot of heat and older models can be energy hogs.

Interactive Whiteboard Displays (IWDs) or Interactive Flat-Panel Displays (IFPDs) encourage innovative and engaging hands-on collaboration in the classroom. Today’s models use LCD screens which are more energy-efficient and result in a lower cost to operate than older CRT-based screens.

In addition, IWDs and IFPDs support a large range of software platforms. Increase your energy efficiency and the educational versatility of your classroom’s technology, all at the same time. 

(Searching for some additional ideas on how to use your equipment to its greatest advantage? Contact the GFC Team. We not only sell, lease and service equipment – we also provide training for your staff.) 

5. Publicize energy costs and savings. 

Get the entire school involved – administrators, teachers, support staff, students and parents.

Is this really a way to save money? Yes! When people know how much it costs to power their school, they can see why it’s worth some extra effort to avoid waste. This knowledge creates buy-in for the entire school population and will help to generate additional energy-saving ideas from the people who spend time in the school every day.

Involve district administrators and consider proposing that a percentage of the money saved from your efforts is earmarked in the next fiscal budget to be returned to your school to provide additional programs of the school staff’s choosing. Reward your schools for participating in energy conservation.

Give you staff a larger voice in how their school’s budget is spent. Seeing these energy-saving results in action will generate additional ideas. Make them heard!

When your entire school is involved, you are making energy savings a priority and including it as an integral part of your school’s culture. 

Want to learn more? 

Searching for more ways to cut your school’s energy bills and save money? Download our free Office Printer Checklist below for a self-audit of your print environment. The results might surprise you.

Or for a free education technology needs assessment, contact the managed print experts at the Gordon Flesch Company today. An assessment only takes 30 minutes, and you’ll learn how to do more while spending less of your school’s budget. 

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