Case Study: The Energy-Saving School

Philipp Schuster
16th July 2013 in Case Studies

Regular visitors to our site and/or Smart Home fans in general will know that a well thought-out Home Automation installation can bring about significant energy saving (which, of course, leads to significant money saving too). Although it can sometimes be tricky to quantify those kinds of amounts with any great accuracy. Using the most current theoretical data available to us though, we can say with some certainly that the figure currently stands around the 25-40% saving mark (on average).

When deciding whether to spend money on eventual energy/money saving in a building, ‘energy amortisation time’ is a key factor. It’s a technical-sounding term and relies on some rather complicated formulas and sums, but the principle is simple – ‘how long before I’ve justified my investment and can start saving?’ If the figures add up, facility designers can convince their paymasters that it’s well worth the extra stretch of the budget.

In the latest of our Case Studies, we’re showing a Spanish school that was keen to run as efficiently as possible and – with a fairly minimal investment – hugely increase comfort and see remarkable cost savings. It might not look all that interesting from the outside, but trust us – it’s a lot better inside…

Don’t blow hot and cold

The main focus of the project was temperature control. A steady, comfortable temperature for both students and teachers alike is hugely important for the atmosphere of the classroom, especially in warmer climes like Spain. After all, you’re not learning or teaching very well while you’re shivering or sweating, are you?!

It was also important that the system be easy to set up and have effective remote access from a variety of devices and locations. Warnings were to be sent out early in the morning using our Caller Service, so if the heating or air-con should go down overnight, maintenance engineers can be on site working on a fix before everyone arrives.

So the Loxone Miniserver was the ideal fit. Versatile, scalable, a proven money-saver… Plus the remote access aspect as well as the ability to call/text/email info and store data for future statistical analysis. Perfecto!

Operating procedure

The initial situation

The boiler room of the school has two boilers and two pumps that feed the radiators of the two separate zones. The initial set-up saw a control unit dictate the temperature of the building, depending on the outside temperature. This wasn’t the worst idea in the world but it didn’t take into account the temperature actually inside the school, often resulting in uncomfortable temperatures and overly-expensive energy bills.

We step in…

  1. We (well, one of our Spanish partners) removed the old unit and its control system and – of course – installed a Miniserver to control the boilers and pumps.

  2. We hooked up a 0-10v analogue temperature sensor with 3 sensors to monitor the two areas of the school as well as the temperature outside.

  3. Once the physical things were all in and ready, the schedules were set. We programmed the Miniserver using the Config software so that the inside and outside temperatures would set off the heating in the school.

  4. Finally, we set up the remote access part of the project, allowing for notifications to be sent in emergency as well as alterations to the set-up to be possible via devices such as iPads and smartphones.

And the important part – the annual savings (2012-2013)

  • Overall cost of materials, installation and commissioning:   € 2,500 (around £2,150)
  • Average annual consumption of previous three years: 185,206 kWh
  • 2012-13 consumption: 85,780 kWh
  • Total savings for 2012-13: 54%, which equates to €15,700 (around £13,500)

Wow. That’s pretty impressive, even if we do say so ourselves! Over half their energy bill? Thanks to these huge savings, other schools and similar facilities in the area are now seriously considering similar installations so they can also greatly improve their energy efficiency and leave themselves more money to spend on textbooks.

This project was carried out by one of our Spanish partners, 9habitat (www.9habitat.com). We’d like to thank them for sharing their experience and fantastic results with us. If you’ve any questions or comments about this or any other Case Study, please feel free to get in touch with us in the usual ways. We always love hearing from you!