How to save energy in child care centres

How to save energy in child care centres

Childcare centres have a fantastic opportunity not only to educate children about being energy-aware, but also to ‘walk the talk’ every day.

And let’s not forget that energy savings translate into lower operating costs, which can benefit both the business and families.  STEP Learning Resources highlights five easy ways childcare centres can save on energy now and in the future.

Educate, educate, educate

Early childhood is a great time to entrench energy-aware habits that can last a lifetime. Bring energy saving into daily routines such as asking children, ‘What do we do now?’ each time you leave a room, turning off lights and fans in response. Read child-friendly books about the earth’s resources. Tech-savvy pre-schoolers can start to learn about device power saving.

‘Energy Theme Days’ are an exciting way to educate. Ideas include Cold Food or Leftover Food Days, Green Days, No Technology Days, the options are endless!

Let there be light, or not…

Lighting is a significant energy cost for childcare centres. LEDs are the most efficient light bulbs, followed by CFL spiral bulbs. The cost of upgrading should be outweighed by the long-term energy savings. Installing motion detectors and automated lights will ensure rooms are only lit up on demand.

Window tinting and blinds

New childcare centres will often have architect-designed spaces with windows that maximise natural light and reduce unwanted heat and glare. For older centres, window tinting is a cost-effective option. For example, one well-known brand gives around 80% solar energy rejection, 82% glare reduction and 99% UV protection. Blinds and awnings work well, particularly for north or west facing rooms. Of course, it is important that all blinds conform to the latest Australian safety standards.

Some days, it can be as simple as opening a window to enjoy fresh air and a natural breeze!

Energy saving modes

Many electrical devices have power saving options. Computers and monitors can be set to sleep mode, while air-conditioning and heating units often have eco settings or timers so that energy is not wasted during outside playtimes, evenings and weekends. While it is tempting to leave devices switched on, standby mode can save hundreds of dollars a year. Even better, switch off completely. Although most appliances only use a small amount of energy, a Choice study found that multi-function printers varied between $0 and $118.24 per year in standby costs.

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Sustainable practices

Energy is only one part of the environmental equation. Water saving can be achieved with tap aerators, rainwater collection and low flush toilets. Eco timber childcare centre furniture is not only more attractive than plastic, but is also durable and sustainable. Other ideas include collecting food scraps for compost, making a worm farm and embracing ‘nude food’ with no packaging. Encourage everyone to recycle and use both sides of paper.

Don’t miss an opportunity for education! Perhaps work with children to make a list of sustainable practices for each age room. You could even stick the list on the wall and add to it each week. Little minds are ripe for learning and what better place to start than their home away from home?

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