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Switch that light off

Highland Council, whose education and leisure buildings will face increases in their energy bills of almost pound;1.5 million this year alone, is pressing schools to cut fuel costs.

In a letter to all education, culture and sports establishment, Bruce Robertson, director of education, said there had to be changes in the council's approach to energy use.

"While there are structural changes and investment in our buildings that we require to make, there are small but important changes we can all make to energy use," Mr Robertson stated.

He added: "I see this as one of the biggest challenges currently facing us, but one where we have a huge impact to make, not just in short-term financial gain but in the long-term educational process."

The council's guidance contains a series of tips for saving on energy, and warns: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Schools and others are urged to carry out regular checks on consumption of electricity, gas and oil, based on actual use not estimates.

Thermostats should be adjusted at the heater not the boiler; lowering the temperature by just one degree Celsius saves 8-10 per cent on the annual heating bill.

Staff are urged to switch off lights, computers and photocopiers in empty rooms, especially at the end of the day. The council estimates that this measure alone can save up to 15 per cent on bills and points out that fluorescent lights take 500 times more energy to run for 15 minutes than they do to start.

Among other tips:

* Don't block radiators.

* Clean light fittings annually.

* Keep windows closed in cold weather and turn down the heating if it gets too warm.

* Keep windows closed while heating or air-conditioning is on.

* Check that thermostats are sited out of draughts and away from cold or hot spots.

* Think up energy-saving ideas.

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