Our use of energy in the dental profession contributes to one seventh of the carbon footprint in NHS dentistry. Duane et al. look at how we can make dentistry more sustainable by thinking about our energy use in the dental practice.
Your practice will usually use energy to heat water and the building. Choosing a green energy supplier that uses renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power over another supplier that also uses fossil fuels can cut your energy carbon footprint by almost 80%.
Whilst the most sustainable fuel source for heating is electricity from renewable sources, a majority use gas for heating because of its lower cost. The cost difference will gradually reduce as the supply of renewable energy increases, but we’ve also included some tips to use fossil fuels more efficiently.
Five areas for effective change:
· Insulate your loft and hot water tank – around 25% of heating is lost through uninsulated roof space. Insulating your hot water tank can cost as little as £16
· Maintain and service your boiler annually – boilers older than 10-15 years have efficiency rates of 60-70%, compared to 95% for modern boilers
· Blinds and curtains can help keep the heat in on colder days and out on warmer days
· Turning the heating thermostat down by 1 degree can save up to 10% of energy, or around £75 a year
· Check your radiator timers and adjust them according to the summer and winter months
· Bleed your radiators regularly and keep them clean outside
· Turn off appliances every evening and before a period of closure. Have a process in place to shutdown electrical appliances at the end of each day to build this into routine
· Switch to LED Bulbs, which produce one sixth of the carbon emissions to equivalent lighting
· Compare energy use when purchasing new appliances (look for the kilowatt rating)
· Size matters – make sure autoclaves and washer disinfectors are the appropriate size; too small and you’ll be completing additional cycles, too large and you won’t utilise the capacity
4. Windows and Doors:
· Seal off draughts from windows and doors – costing £12, this can save around £107 a year
· Double glazing will increase energy efficiency by several points
· Using air conditioning? Ask yourself if you could open windows to cool the area instead
· Keep doors closed in heated and air-conditioned areas, to minimise energy loss
5. Energy Efficiency:
· Keep the dental chair in maximum use, so optimal energy is used to heat the building
· Need to upgrade your meter? Consider waiting for a SMETS2 smart meter, which will enable a seamless change between providers
· Consider generating your own energy, using solar panels or heat pumps for example
These largely simple and effective changes can help your practice on its journey to become more sustainable and energy efficient.
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