SCHOOLS in Oxfordshire could soon be slashing their electricity bills with the introduction of new energy saving lights.

Secondary schools could save an average of £20,000 a year and primary schools about £3,000 by using the carbon-reducing tube lights, according to the county council.

John Mason School in Abingdon is now saving about £18,000 a year after installing the lights throughout its buildings in the summer holidays.

The school decided to buy the Light Emitting Diode (LED) filled tubes after a month-long trial in two classrooms organised by Oxfordshire County Council. The lights saved 40 per cent more energy and cash than the old fluorescent tubes.

The school’s business manager Alex Keeble said the lights cost about £80,000, but the school was now saving 40 per cent on its electricity bills.

She said: “Like everyone we are getting increasingly worried about our energy costs, so we have been very impressed with the results.

“The possibility of investing in a scheme that will have a significant impact on our budget and benefit the environment can only be good news for us. Less money on energy also means more money to support the education of our students.”

She added: “Not only have we seen a reduction in costs from the trial period, but the actual illumination has given better working conditions for students and staff.”

Oxfordshire County Council hopes other schools will now consider the lights as part of a wider drive to cut carbon emissions and energy costs across all its buildings.

Darrell Marchand, the council’s energy and environmental manager, said: “Before we recommend a new energy efficient technology to schools we need to know it will perform at the level anticipated.

“To make the experiment fair we compared the two types of light and the results were pretty emphatic.”

Cabinet member for growth and infrastructure Lorraine Lindsay-Gale added: “This has significant implications for the carbon footprint of schools.

“Lighting accounts for about 50 per cent of schools’ electricity needs and LED lighting could have a real impact on the lighting costs for our schools.”

The need for more efficient lighting was identified after a council energy survey at every maintained school in the county over the past four years.

Council spokesman Marcus Mabberley added: “Individual schools hold the money to pay their energy bills, so decisions about installing energy efficient measures would rest with them.”