Energy saving in the public sector

Energy saving tips for hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, local councils and government

Save precious resources for where they’re needed

A college teacher speaking in front of a class of students

Recommended temperatures for public sector buildings

  • Offices 19–21°C
  • Classrooms 18°C
  • Sports hall and corridors 15°C
  • Areas for very young children 21°C

Developing a temperature policy can help to manage your heating use over time

Public sector heating systems

  • Switch off heating for the last hour of the day – the building should retain its heat for that time
  • Use time switches so heating is only on when the building’s in use
  • Encourage staff to use window blinds to retain heat in winter and keep it down in summer
  • Regularly service boilers to retain efficiency and consider replacing units over 15 years old
A hand turning down a heating thermostat
Strip lighting in a public sector building


  • Opening window blinds to utilise daylight could reduce lighting bills by 19%
  • Use movement detectors, time switches and daylight sensors
  • Encourage staff to switch lights off when they’re not needed
  • Install energy-efficient lights – using the right lights could cut your lighting costs by up to 80%

If windows, skylights and light fittings are not kept clean, light levels could fall by up to 40%


  • Hot water should be stored at temperatures above 60°C to avoid bugs like legionella
  • Cold water should be kept at a maximum 20°C
  • Ensure pipework is well insulated to prevent heat loss

Fitting taps that turn off automatically (percussion taps) can lead to major energy savings

The hot and cold taps on a water dispenser
An air conditioning unit in a public sector building

Air conditioning

  • Don’t waste energy by heating and cooling areas at the same time
  • Switch off heating in office areas when it reaches 20°C
  • Only turn on air conditioning when the temperature is over 24°C

Regular air-conditioning services help keep your system running efficiently


  • Install variable-speed drives in your fans
  • Ensure air recycling is optimised, particularly when there aren’t many people around
  • Consider investing in high efficiency equipment for your heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems

Variable-speed drives can reduce the running costs of a fan by up to 40%

An engineer on a ladder works on a ceiling ventilation unit
An office worker prepares to operate a photocopying machine

Electrical equipment

  • IT equipment burns energy, even in standby mode
  • Encourage staff to switch equipment off when not in use
  • Use the energy-saving features on things like monitors and printers

Turning computers and monitors off at night can save £35 a year per desk

More advice from the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust helps organisations contribute to and benefit from a more sustainable future through carbon reduction, resource efficiency strategies and commercialising low carbon technologies.

Download their free guide to help identify energy and cost savings which can be easily made with little or no cost, and explore energy hotspots such as heating, lighting and commercial equipment.

Saving tips for British Gas business customers

Pay by Direct Debit

Register for an online account and pay by Direct Debit.

Return to your online account and set up a direct debit.

Get a smart meter

A business smart meter can help you understand your energy usage.

Save energy in your business

Energy saving tools and tips to help you improve energy efficiency