1. The open fume cupboard sash
This is a big energy consumer: every litre of air sucked out of the building up a fume hood has to be replaced by another litre of air from outside, heated to the lab temperature, and pumped to the lab through the air handling system in the building. A 2004 report on my building, the Purdie Building, estimated that this effect doubled the space heating load of the building!

What you can do: Develop a habit - and encourage your co-workers - to close the sash when not in use. Ask your building manager to install automatically closing fume hoods :-) These have a sensor which closes the sash when nobody is working at the fume cupboard. The payback time for the installation costs, in terms of energy saved in our Purdie Building is ... just 2.7 years.

2. Equipment left on overnight unnecessarily
If your lab looks pretty at night with all the different coloured lights, then perhaps it's time to consider which equipment really needs to be left on overnight. There are various ways to more easily switch off equipment before you leave: these include remote controls, and a system of coloured stickers on plugs, e.g. red = always on, green  = switch off at six.

I'll be writing again on the topic of equipment being left on unnecessarily, and will review remote controls, and recommend which types are useful to be able to easily switch off multiple pieces of equipment from one control. I will also be demonstrating how to measure energy consumption of various devices with a plug-in energy monitor.

What you can do: Develop a habit of turning off equipment left on overnight just before you leave, and check back to see which remote controls are recommended, and how they work.

3. Poor insulation on furnaces and heating tapes
If you are doing an experiment, and, for example, you need to get the temperature in your rig to over 100 degrees C to prevent steam condensing in your pipes, you are probably using a heating tape. I've used a Scottish tartan to get my heating tape and pipes insulated: after this, the pipes are 115 degrees C on the inside, and 40 degrees C on the outside. 

What you can do: Measure the temperature on the surface of your pipes, and if you think heat is being lost, then insulate. My tartan blanket cost just £10 and provides an attractive Scottish theme for my equipment!

4. Older, inefficient fridges and freezers
Your lab fridge/freezer may have been around a while: older models tend to be less efficient. Calculating when to buy a new fridge/freezer, and when to keep using the current one, in terms of energy and money savings, can be complex. Here's a guide to the labelling, and also (for a subscription of £1) you can calculate the cost and benefit of scrapping an older model and getting a newer, more efficient one.

What you can do: Check the energy rating of your fridge/freezer  - you could also use a plug-in energy monitor to measure energy consumption over a week. If it's really excessive, it may be time to upgrade. You can also get a device fitted called a 'Savacontrol' - which reduces energy use by 20% by making the freezer/fridge motor work more efficiently. Contact David Stutchfield (Energy Officer) if you are part of the University of St Andrews to find out about this: ds51@st-andrews.ac.uk

5. Venting pipes out of the window

This is the quickest solution to venting your equipment, but also lets lots of warm air out of the lab. I work in Scotland, which means that the Standard Ambient Temperature of 25 deg C is reached for perhaps only a few days per year: therefore, if the window is open, heat is being lost.

What you can do: If you have open windows in the lab, route your vent pipes into a fume hood instead. If you don't have a fume hood, you shouldn't be doing work that needs to be vented to the outside atmosphere anyway.

6. Lights left on when nobody's around

In my building, hours worked by the researchers vary considerably: some people like to come in and leave early, some are late starters and finishers, and some seem to live in the building...

It's very easy to leave all the lights on when you leave the lab: and there are many reasons to do this, e.g.
- I don't know which light switch controls which lights
This is a common problem in a large lab: if only someone would label the light switches clearly...

- I'll be back in five minutes, so I might as well leave the lights on
I find many reasons why I'm rarely back when I expect to be: seeing that person I wanted to talk to, remembering that I have to put my samples in the furnace, etc.

- My lab is too busy: people are in and out all the time, so I might as well leave the lights on
This may well be true at certain times of the day, but is less likely in the early morning, lunchtimes, and evenings.

What you can do: Take the initiative to clearly label your light switches, and turn off when you're the last person out.

Congratulations! You've saved energy: and by taking simple steps like these, you can raise the profile of environmental issues in your workplace, which will encourage your colleagues to carry the idea of energy saving into their personal lives as well. Please let me know about your stories of saving energy, by contacting me through the contact form on this site, or commenting on the blog: thanks.

Good Blog in this blog you arise some important question and it is vary help full on my research !

21/8/2013 08:35:34 am

This post is of so much significance in the society! As you mentioned here a lot of energy is wasted in lab in various forms! This is such a drawback of our system! With proper solutions we can overcome this issue! Thanks for the share!

24/9/2013 07:09:11 pm

Agree with you man!


Very nice, I am totally agree with your points, sometimes we ignore these things but these small things are really very important to conserve energy.

28/10/2013 08:54:53 am

It's great to achieved the beautiful insulation

13/12/2013 09:40:16 am

Nice post about energy system !!!Seeing so many great reviews of this blog, I thought I would also make a comment and let you know that I really enjoyed reading this blog. There are some strange comments, but for the most part I agree with what the other reviewers are saying.

10/4/2015 04:44:25 am

Well… round about every blog posts online don’t have much originality as I found on yours.. Just keep updating much useful information so that reader like me would come back over and over again.
I just read the regularly one particular artical.

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    Dr Stephen Gamble

    Academic. Environmentalist. Charity Worker. Entrepreneur. 


    November 2012