Laboratory’s have much higher energy consumption requirements compared to commercial organizations of similar size. It is for this reason that energy consumption needs to be monitored seriously and controlled in laboratories but not at the cost of quality of work, environment or discomfort to laboratory workers.
Day to Day laboratory operations involve several cost heads such as:
- Chemicals and consumables
- Solvents and gases
- Laboratory rentals if it is not under your private ownership
- Employee salaries
- Utilities such as heating, electricity, ventilation, etc
It can be seen that most of the heads are more or less constant every month and depend on the type of routine testing carried out in your laboratory. The main variable head which impacts operational costs is energy consumption. However, costs under this head can be controlled provided the utilities are utilized judiciously and efficiently. The present article will focus on measures that can be adopted for saving cost on energy consumption.
Environmental control norms and efficient utilization of energy go hand-in-hand. The following suggestions can in the long run contribute to significant savings on operations through efficient utilization of available wastage of energy resources.
Energy audits like safety audits can go a long way in cutting down operational costs. The auditors should review the energy consumption pattern and make recommendations on:
- Installation of low energy consuming lighting such as LEDs
- Temperature and humidity control through automated shutdown monitors
- Regular maintenance and servicing of electrical equipments
- Use of exhaust gas monitors to reduce ventilation costs
- Variable pumping speed drives in pumps for compressed air, chilled and hot water distribution units
- Installation of monitors such as \(CO_2\) detectors which can control efficiently HVAC system dependent on occupancy of a laboratory at any given point of time
- Use of customized automated techniques that offer a potential saving time and cost of analysis
- Inculcating the habit among workers to switch off lighting, fans, AC’s or heating when leaving the laboratory.
Energy saving to efficiently run the operations and improve work efficiency is an achievable target but it requires spreading the awareness and active involvement of all laboratory workers.