Focus on Energy: How to offset the negative energy impact of COVID-19 in schools

Madison, Wis. – Over the past two years, many schools implemented operational changes based on the Center  for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) input and recommendations in response to COVID-19. Changes included increasing the presence of outdoor air through open windows when possible and using fans to circulate  that air, both of which can negatively impact building energy usage. 

FOCUS ON ENERGY® recently studied Wisconsin school energy usage to understand how it has changed due to the recommended operational changes in response to COVID-19. In its white paper, COVID-19 Energy Impacts  to Wisconsin Schools, Focus on Energy shares how schools saw an average increase of 10% in natural gas usage  

(therms) and 0.4% in electric usage (kWh). This increase equates to an additional $5.62 million in estimated annual utility costs for Wisconsin schools. The white paper goes on to list a few proactive strategies schools can  embrace to help offset these rising costs, such as: 

• Recording changes to building control settings 

• Evaluating other systems impacted by setting changes 

• Performing a building tune-up 

• Choosing high-efficiency equipment 

“Reviewing energy bills from a normal year to determine the building’s baseline energy use is a great way to be  prepared,” said Heather Feigum, program manager with Focus on Energy. “If you are aware of these COVID related operational increases, then you can budget and react accordingly.” Focus on Energy has financial incentives available to offset the cost of installing energy-efficient equipment or  performing retrocommissioning to extend the life of existing equipment. To view all program offerings and read  the white paper, visit