Taking action on sustainability

Saving energy at the university

While many of us work to save energy at home, we often pay less attention to saving on electricity and heating at work. One reason for this behaviour is that we do not get feedback on our energy usage in the form of an electrical or heating bill. The Sustainable Development Working Group would like to provide a few suggestions for how you specifically can conserve energy at the university.
Although the effects of one person's actions appear to be very small, the total effect of all our actions can indeed make a big difference.

Tips for saving energy:

  1. Many devices (PCs, scientific equipment, etc.) at the university are always on. In some cases this is necessary, while in others it would be easy to switch them off overnight, on the weekend or for longer periods of time.
  2. Even in standby mode, many devices use a large amount of electricity. And even in hibernation mode, PCs, monitors and docking stations continue to use a significant amount of electricity. The easiest way to stop this from happening is to use a power strip and switch it off before you leave the office. The energy settings should be set so that when PCs are inactive, e.g. after 15 minutes, they switch into power saving mode. Screen savers actually increase energy usage. Another way to save energy is to have as few programmes as possible running in the background.
  3. Especially in university labs and kitchenettes, there are often refrigerators in use that are very old and have an energy efficiency that is much lower than today's devices. For this reason, it could be worthwhile to replace old (inefficient) electrical devices (refrigerators, etc.) with new ones. By the way, this is not necessarily the case for laptops or PCs – in most cases these devices save energy when they are kept for longer periods of time.
  4. Refrigerators and freezers used at the university in particular are often not defrosted regularly. The build-up of ice prevents them from operating efficiently. Such devices should also not be placed near a source of heat (e.g. a heater). It is usually enough to set the refrigerator temperature to 7° C. Each degree colder increases electricity usage by several percentage points. It goes without saying that the doors of refrigerators/freezers should only be opened for a short period of time.
  5. Heaters should be kept clean with plenty of free space around them. Moreover: reducing the thermostat setting by one degree lowers heating/energy usage by about 6%.
  6. Especially during the pandemic, it has proven important to ventilate rooms regularly. The best way to do so is to periodically open all the windows (and doors) completely for 3-5 minutes and turn off the heaters during this time.
  7. Please only use electrical lighting when it is necessary. If the lighting in your office is too bright, ask house maintenance services if it can be reduced.