6 easy actions to reduce energy consumption in labs

Adriana Wolf Perez, PhD
2 min readMar 23, 2024

Lab buildings consume on average 5x more energy than office buildings. There are, however, many actions that can be performed to reduce the overall electricity usage and associated carbon emissions.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Which devices consume the most energy in your lab?

· Fume hoods consume as much energy as 3.5 homes in a day.

  • Cold storage consumes a lot of energy: ULT freezers (-80C) typically consume as much energy as a family home in a day.
  • Autoclaves can use as much energy as 50 homes in a year
  • Air conditioning/ventilation, which is generally in use 24/7 in labs.

What can you start doing today to reduce energy consumption in your lab?

  • It´s simple: Turn off equipment that is not in use. (Especially chilled centrifuges and heating blocks require a lot of energy. Turning them off when they are not in use can save up to 10 kWh/day. To put this in context, a home refrigerator uses about 5 kWh/day, so turning off your centrifuges and heatblocks can be like turning off two refrigerators.)

· Shut the sash of the fume hood. Keep it low while working in it.

· Don’t run your autoclave unless it’s full and don’t autoclave things that don’t need to be sterile

· Make rules about when to turn equipment off and put friendly reminders or stickers on each piece of equipment to remind people.

· Install automatic timers. This could be another solution that may be more convenient to make sure some pieces of equipment are turning off overnight. This could be also a convenient and more eco-friendly solution for heat blocks that are often on 24/7.

· Take part in the “Freezer Challenge”: it will provide you with tips on how to reduce carbon emissions related to cold storage.

Disclaimer: This article has been published as a newsletter article at the University of Cambridge and BAS. The author decided to make these available to the public to make resources available to help scientists all over the world to conduct research in a more sustainable manner.