Rebate Puts the Freeze on Lab Energy Use

A rebate offered by the Office of Sustainability is helping laboratories around the university reduce the energy used by ultra-low temperature freezers.

Rebate Puts the Freeze on Lab Energy Use

A rebate offered by the Office of Sustainability is helping laboratories around the university reduce the energy used by ultra-low temperature freezers.

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Ultra-low temperature freezers are used to keep lab specimens at extremely low temperatures to prevent degradation and use a huge amount of energy.

A new rebate program at the University of Saskatchewan is putting a freeze on energy waste in laboratories around campus.

Thanks to a program funded by the Sustainability Revolving Fund, labs on campus using ultra-low temperature freezers (ULTs) are able to receive a $5,000 credit towards a newer, energy efficient model when replacing an older, inefficient freezer.

The rebate was led by the Office of Sustainability’s Sustainability Initiatives Co-ordinator, Erin Akins. “ULTs, which store samples at -80 degrees Celsius are some of the biggest energy hogs on campus; the older ones use the same amount of energy as an entire house. If we were going to improve the energy footprint of labs on campus, this was an obvious first step.”

Putting the Freeze on our Base Load

Freezers run 24/7. Akins says that the rebate acts as an incentive that tackles passive energy use on campus. “Labs are extremely energy-intensive spaces and create an enormous energy footprint; however, the research that comes out of them is central to the university’s goals and requires this equipment to succeed. The goal of the rebate is to try and make it easier for researchers to make energy conservation a priority without having to compromise their work.”

When buying appliances for our homes we can rely on programs like Energy Star or Energuide. Unfortunately, there isn’t an equivalent program that evaluates lab equipment. As part of the rebate, we are providing recommendations for energy efficient models based on a review of commercially available lab equipment. This rebate specifically applies to energy efficient freezer models which use roughly 1/3 of the energy used by older models. By helping to eliminate the price gap between the conventional and energy efficient freezers, researchers are able to pursue energy efficiency without having to break their budgets.

Cool Expansions Slated for the Future

The ULT freezer rebate is the first step in addressing the energy used by large appliances at the university. Akins plans to expand the program to include a variety of refrigerators and freezer types. “While labs are definitely some of the biggest energy users on campus, there are still plenty of standard appliances that can be improved upon. We want to make choosing energy efficient appliances less of a choice and more of a default.”

Expansions of the program will rely on the success of the existing program, but with major units like the Western College of Veterinary Medicine taking part in the rebate it’s simply a matter of time before we see the rebate grow. 

If your lab or any others are interested in taking part in the ULT-Freezer Rebate Program, please contact Erin Akins at erin.akins@usask.ca.

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