Does your lab have equipment that could be powered down at night with an outlet timer?

Laboratories make up approximately 50% of UBC’s energy consumption. One easy way to reduce energy is to turn equipment off when not in use. Often times lab equipment is left on during the day, but could be turned off at night. Outlet timers can shut down and start up equipment automatically at set times, cutting off the electricity to equipment when not needed. Outlet timers have shown to reduce equipment energy consumption up to 33%, resulting in energy cost savings. Timers can also reduce the fire hazard risk of having electrical heating equipment on when no one is in the lab. Green Labs provides free timers.


1. Identify Equipment

Identify equipment in your lab that is often left on but could be turned off at night without interfering with your research. Timers are particularly useful for equipment that may need to be at a certain set point before researchers arrive. Examples include heating blocks, centrifuges, PDR machines, drying ovens. 

2. Contact Green Labs

Contact Green Labs to express your interest. Equipment suitability will need to be verified with support from Green Labs, including equipment type, model, power controls, and wattage, as well as outlet availability.

3. Determine Energy Savings

For suitable equipment, we will need to determine how much energy will be saved to ensure that installing a timer will have at least a 5-year cost savings payback. 

  • For common equipment, Green Labs will already have measured and calculated energy savings. 
  • On less common types of lab equipment, we will install an energy meter on the equipment you are interested in attaching to a timer. We will meter the energy use to determine how much energy a timer would save, and ensure that a timer will not disrupt the lab's research. 
4. Install Timer

Installing the timer is a simple process. Please work with colleagues and your lab manager to determine the appropriate on/off schedule, and program the timer as per instructions to turn on and off at agreed upon hours. The timer must be plugged into a wall outlet, and the equipment is then plugged into the timer. Test the outlet timer functions as intended, and adjust the timer settings as necessary.

5. Educate Lab Occupants

Educating lab occupants is important to ensure that the timer achieves maximum energy savings. You can send an email out to lab occupants letting them know on/off times of the timer, and how to override the timer if necessary.

6. Monitor

Every so often, check to ensure the timer is still in use and functioning, with the appropriate on/off times. If the timer is no longer needed, please let Green Labs know so it can be redistributed to another lab on campus.

Contact Green Labs