Burning lights and switched-on computers: apparently, saving electricity is tricky

The UG is on course when it comes to saving gas, but using less electricity is turning out to be much more difficult.

During the winter months, the university used three quarters of the gas it used the previous year. Setting up comfort times, closing buildings, and lowering the thermostat to 19 degrees Celsius have all had an effect.

Gas usage has gone down almost everywhere at the university. In January, the UG used 17.6 percent less gas than the year before, and in February, it was 27.8 percent less. Although it must be said that the warm winter also played a role there.


However, it’s apparently trickier to cut down on electricity. In January, electricity use was down by only 10.9 percent in comparison to 2019 – due to the pandemic, this is the best year to compare it to. In February, conservation was down by only 7 percent.

‘We’re currently at the level we were at during the Covid pandemic, but back then, there weren’t any people in the building. That means the net use did decrease quite a bit’, says Dick Jager with the UG’s Green Office.


Simply put, saving electricity is more difficult than saving on gas. The lights are burning and computers are switched on. Especially computers use a lot of electricity. This is especially apparent at the Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), which shows a spectacular decrease in usage: 41 percent compared to 2019.

But that’s not because the economists have suddenly become thrifty; the CIT’s usage has actually gone up by 27 percent. ‘There was a data centre that used to be a part of FEB’, Jager explains. ‘It was moved and now belongs to the CIT.’

The faculties of art and law also did very well in December: their usage decreased by 16 and 14 percent, respectively. The UB managed to save 15 percent.

Cool less

But the Office of the University at the Oude Boteringestraat actually used 20 percent more electricity than in December 2019. The philosophy faculty’s usage went up by 8 percent.

Jager thinks the university can save a lot during the summer. Many buildings depend on cogeneration, which uses electricity. ‘We won’t be cooling as much in the summer’, Jager explains. ‘Not until temperatures reach 26 degrees Celsius. Cooling is much more expensive than heating. We’ll have to wait and see what that gets us.’

In the meantime, the university is considering buying stock in solar parks. Another idea would be to build a roof with solar panels over its car parks. ‘Car parks are pretty ugly spaces where nothing much happens’, says Jager. ‘You could utilise them by building solar panels over them.’


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