This spring semester, 10 Tufts labs are participating in The Freezer Challenge (4 on Boston Campus, 2 Dept. of Engineering, 4 Dept. of Biology) –including the labs of Stuart Levy, Karl Munger, Catherine Freudenreich, Sergei Mirkin, Juliet Fuhrman, Nikhil U. Nair, Jamie Maguire, Thomas Biederer, and James Van Deventer. Their goal: to optimize their freezer use to be as energy efficient possible. In fact, a lab freezer—one of the most energy intensive pieces of equipment in a research lab—consumes the same amount of electricity as the average U.S. household each year. At Tufts, research labs and hospital facilities have the largest impact in production of waste, use of water, and consumption of energy.
This spring, with the help and support of the Tufts’ Green Lab Initiative, Tufts’ labs will be working to reduce their freezers’ energy consumption!
If your lab hasn’t joined the 2017 Freezer Challenge, do not fret. Here are 5 easy steps you can take to increase your lab’s energy efficiency:
- Take inventory of your freezer, consolidate, and share space – post the location of specific items on the freezer door so that they don’t get lost, buried, or forgotten. Be sure to clearly label your samples with the date, type of sample, and researcher’s name, and discard any old, unwanted samples. Try to keep your newly cleaned out freezer full for maximum efficiency by sharing with others.
- Set Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) freezers at the highest required temperature (-70°C is adequate for most bio-molecules and many microbial cultures and DNAs can be stored at -20°C).
- Install ULT freezer monitors with alarms that will notify you of temperature failures & keep your samples safe.
- Keep your freezers in a well-ventilated area – this helps reduce excess energy consumption by avoiding external heat sources.
- Defrost & clean your freezer – try to do so at least once a year to remove any blockages to a proper seal and clear space for sample storage. Clean dusty condenser filters to clear blockages to heat removal.
As a bonus tip, consider purchasing a more efficient ULT Freezer. New, conventional ULT freezers use between 16 and 22 kWh per day, overtime they can become less energy efficient. Energy efficient units can use as little as 8kWh/day, which can make a huge difference in your lab’s energy use! You can also save money by purchasing a ULT freezer! Utility companies frequently offer large rebates to labs who switch.