Lights off, boil less, switch off, layer up, power down.
Lights off, boil less, switch off, layer up, power down.

Be energy friendly

Save energy. Save the environment.

Updated on 16 November 2022

**New Be energy friendly in the lab** 

The University is encouraging everyone to take continued steps to reduce energy usage in departments including those who work and study in University laboratories. Although progress has already been made towards greater energy efficiency in labs, please continue play your part and follow the steps below wherever possible, if you’re not already doing so, consulting your departmental safety staff where appropriate:

Shut the sash: shut your fume hood sash when you’re not using it, and switch it off where possible (and safe to do so). This could save up to £275 per year on each of 1,000 fume cupboards
• Maintain your equipment: to extend the device's life and maximise its energy efficiency
• Switch off / set timers: turn off electrical equipment when not in use and set timers to turn on and off automatically where possible (and safe to do so)
• Optimise temperatures: follow best practice advice on optimal temperatures for efficient operation. E.g.,
   - PCR machine – can work at 12 degrees at the end of the cycle (no need to cool it to 4 degrees)
   - Glass drying can be done at 50-60 degrees; you don’t need 150-200 degrees, especially if it is left to dry overnight
   - UTL freezer set to -70 degrees will keep your samples just as good as -80 degrees and will save 28% of the energy consumption per unit. 

Help make Oxford’s labs more sustainable: sign up to LEAF now if you haven’t already done so. Information about LEAF and access to our lab success stories can be found on the Sustainability webpages.

Energy prices are soaring. Without immediate action, this could pose a considerable risk to Oxford’s finances, and its ability to deliver on its mission, which would impact us all. In response, the University has approved new energy-saving measures for departments to adopt during the winter months. Not only will this reduce how much energy we use, it will also help us reduce our impact on the environment – in line with our sustainability commitment to reach net zero carbon by 2035.

The changes may include maintaining building temperatures to a maximum of 19 °C (in line with World Health Organization and EU guidance), changing heating timings, reviewing weekend settings and removing space heaters.

Play your part

You can play your part in reducing energy consumption by following the steps below. These ideas are not new, but they may not be front of mind; try to build them into your daily routine wherever possible:

  • Lights off: turn off the lights if you’re the last one to leave the room
  • Boil less: only boil as much water as you need (this could save £3 per day per kettle)
  • Layer up: bring a jumper for comfort during the winter months
  • Switch off: turn off appliances at the socket when not in use, and keep electric heaters off for good (they consume up to £1 of energy per hour and can increase the risk of fires)
  • Power down: turn off your computer and screen at the end of the working day, and make sure your computer is set to ‘hibernate’ if you’re away from your desk (find out more about how much power this can save)

Remember it is no longer a COVID-19 requirement to keep windows open in spaces with mechanical ventilation and with safety approval. Check local guidance and keep the heat in where you can. This guidance will be kept under review, and updated as appropriate – for example, if government guidance changes in relation to COVID-19 and seasonal flu.

We realise that you might need to dress differently in light of the new heating arrangements. Supervisors are asked to be supportive of changing from traditional work clothing to multiple layers and jumpers.

With more than 25,000 students and 14,000 staff members taking these actions, the cumulative effects will save a significant amount of both money and carbon emissions. For example, reducing the ambient temperature in all University buildings by just one degree will save up to 8% of heating energy.

Colleges will be introducing local energy-saving measures; college staff and students should contact their college for more information.

You can find additional tips for being energy efficient on the University’s Environmental Sustainability website – whether you’re in the office, in a lab or at home.

**New 16 November ** Be energy friendly in the lab

In a research intensive environment, it is to be expected that laboratory buildings consume a significant proportion (60%) of the University’s energy requirement and carbon emissions.

Progress has already been made towards greater energy efficiency although it can be difficult to reduce energy usage in laboratory settings, as many essential requirements – such as ventilation systems, specialist equipment, process chilled water, and the need to maintain particular temperatures or humidity levels – are particularly energy intensive.

There are still things you can do in a lab to save energy, if you are not already doing so. The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) and the University’s own Sustainable Labs programme have been developed to help research groups with this, and they offer practical guidance, including:

  • Shut the sash: shut your fume hood sash when you’re not using it, and switch it off where possible (and safe to do so). This could save up to £275 per year on each of 1,000 fume cupboards
  • Maintain your equipment: to extend the device's life and maximise its energy efficiency
  • Switch off / set timers: turn off electrical equipment when not in use and set timers to turn on and off automatically where possible (and safe to do so)
  • Optimise temperatures: Follow best practice advice on optimal temperatures for efficient operation. E.g.,
    - PCR machine – can work at 12 degrees at the end of the cycle (no need to cool it to 4 degrees)
    - Glass drying can be done at 50-60 degrees; you don’t need 150-200 degrees, especially if it is left to dry overnight
    - UTL freezer set to -70 degrees will keep your samples just as good as -80 degrees and will save 28% of the energy consumption per unit. 

Help make Oxford’s labs more sustainable: sign up to LEAF now. Information about LEAF and access to our lab success stories can be found on the Sustainability webpages.

Safety remains the priority and your departmental safety staff will be able to advise you on the safety implications of any proposed changes to working practices.

Support for staff

This is a challenging time with every household facing increasing bills and difficult decisions about expenditure. The Energy Saving Trust is one of many organisations to provide practical help to reduce energy bills, including the ideas highlighted above – some of which can be implemented instantly at no cost.

On 4 November, the Vice-Chancellor announced that eligible staff will receive an exceptional non-consolidated payment in their December 2022 salaries. We know that even with this payment some colleagues may find themselves in financial difficulties. The University also has a Staff Financial Support Fund to assist those with unmanageable financial burdens.

Please remember the HR webpages also provide resources to help support mental wellbeing during these uncertain times.

Support for students

We understand that this is a difficult time for students as the cost of living continues to rise. If you find yourself struggling then talk to your college and/or student welfare team. Don’t suffer in silence – these teams are there to help and won’t judge. Details of financial assistance for students can be found on the Oxford Students website, along with useful information about managing your finances and planning your study and living costs. You can also visit the University’s Sustainability page for tips on reducing energy consumption, including for those in rented accommodation.

Please remember the student welfare and wellbeing webpages also provide resources to help support mental wellbeing during these uncertain times.

Resources for the Be energy friendly campaign

Our Be energy friendly campaign includes materials to reinforce these messages; the latest version of the energy friendly campaign pack can be found on SharePoint (SSO required). The campaign uses some familiar characters from around Oxford, who will be asking all of us to take individual action to reduce our personal energy consumption. If you want to put forward a suitable character or building to include in future iterations of the campaign then we would love to hear from you: send us your idea.