8 Ways to Soak Up Water Savings in Labs

Research needs resources such as energy and water.  At some universities, water use in labs accounts for up to 50 percent of the university’s total water consumption.  “How?” you ask…. Because many laboratory processes require water (and lots of it). Here are some tips that can significantly reduce your water use within the lab.

  1. Reduce single pass cooling. Many instruments and processes require water for cooling. Instead of running water down the drain, try running a recirculating loop through a cold water bath as an alternative. Or, (if possible) move your process to a cooler room.
  2. Use timers. Install or use timers on critical or continuous water uses. Don’t have a timer? Write a post-it note as a reminder to turn off the water.
  3. Choose your water wisely.  It’s easy to use high quality water (deionized, reverse osmosis, distilled) for everything in a lab. However, the energy and water used by stills to create high quality water can be considerable. Use the lowest grade water appropriate and consider soaking rather than continuous flushing to reduce water use.
  4. Install water misers. On NC State’s campus, water misers for autoclaves have been shown to reduce water use by up to 90 percent. Interested in installing one in your lab, contact NC State Energy Management.
  5. Use ice makers and autoclaves efficiently. Buy efficient machines and cycle them off at night and on weekends. Only use the autoclave cooling water when needed and divert clean process water to a second use.
  6. Wash labware efficiently.  In the same way you’d save water at home, you can save water in the lab. If a dishwasher is being used, make sure it’s fully loaded. Instead of using running water, fill the sink and use that instead. If you do need to rinse, use minimum flow.
  7. Report dripping and leaking faucets. A dripping faucet can waste more than 600 gallons a year and a running toilet can waste more than 131,000 gallons. Contact the appropriate NC State facility liaison to request a repair.
  8. Eliminate vacuum aspirators.  Use a vacuum pump instead. This can save about 238 gallons of water per hour of use.

Looking for more tips on saving water in the lab? The EPA has you covered.