First Look Blog

Articles written by the First Look team.

Quem não tem cão, caça com Gato

Published by Ken Nunes on 08/07/2015

There's an an old Portuguese saying: Quem não tem cão, caça com Gato, meaning: If you don’t have a dog, hunt with a cat...

In the absence of real-time monitoring data of electricity and water consumption, it is still possible to use the basic information available, together with good old fashion ingenuity, in order to minimally understand the electricity and water consumption of your school.

First Look can provide preliminary information, through studying the last 3-years of Municipality invoices. Clear Key Indicators will result from which it is possible to compare your consumption and cost with schools of similar characteristics.

If this is not possible, schools Administrators and caretakers can look at the following:

1.  Understanding the Municipal invoices. This is the least that can be done. Check the consumption for details, such as consumption per day per pupil, particularly for water. Anything above 20KL/Day/Learner needs attention. (See this Article on KPI Consumption per Learner

2.  Religiously take readings of your Municipal Meter every day, first thing in the morning and last thing before you leave, which will enable you to verify consumption during the evening and night. This is an excellent first step, although you need to be diligent to understand the data and if you suspect a problem, investigate until the cause is found.

3.  If consumption in the evening is high (anything above zero consumption in the evening is high), and you suspect there may be an underground water leak, see how it is possible to isolate the leak. This can be done by locating stop valves to the buildings and comparing the movement of the water meter as each building is isolated.

4.  Regularly check toilets and taps for leaks and drips. This is a maintenance issue that can easily be carried out every day. This may sound exaggerated, however, a dripping tap(s) or leaking toilet(s) can cause significant waste.

5.  Visit your school in the evening to verify what lights are left ON. This may be for security reasons or by accident (some would say negligence :) ).

6.  Verify that the timers on security lighting circuits function properly. If this does not exist, fit one immediately. It's best to fit “electronic timers” that are not affected by constant load shedding.

     NOTE: It's worth remembering that security lighting (external or internal) is a 12 hours per day, 365 days a year consumption. That's 50% of the 8,760 hours of the year, and each Watt consumed will have a considerable multiplying factor.

7.  Study the possibility of substituting all lights left ON in the evening (for whatever reason) with LED’s lamps.

8.  Ensure heaters are not left on at night. This is particularly important during the winter period (when electricity is more expensive). Apart from the electricity cost, there is a potential fire risk.

9.  Verify electric hot water boilers are not left on ALL NIGHT. If they are, consider a timer to turn these on and off to maximise efficiency.

10.  This can also be said of electric hot water geysers.

11.  Try involving teachers, staff and learners to understand the importance of energy and water efficiency.

12.  Turn lights off in the day if the room has adequate natural daylight.

The majority of the above are no-cost or low-cost suggestions you can and should be doing to begin the process of understanding your consumption and reduce costs. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Changing well established bad habits will take time and you need to be patient, very committed and extremely may even discover, it is possible to hunt with a cat :)

Should further assistance be needed, do count on us to be part of your journey: