Fume Hood Energy Savings: Low-Hanging Fruit

Robert Haugen, Flow Sciences, Inc.

There are a wide variety of technologies that can be applied to saving energy in laboratories. In most labs, fume hoods and their large exhaust quantities attract a lot of attention. The author demonstrates that percent energy savings from such low exhaust technologies are not additively cumulative, but multiplicative in nature. Each strategy can reduce total energy use by a percent of the whole; the next strategy has a lower whole to further reduce and so forth.

Each savings strategy has an up-front cost and it only makes sense to use the least expensive strategies first, following up with the costlier strategies. Using this approach, smaller fume hoods, lower face velocities, lower operating sash openings, and non-occupied air change setbacks produced much more dramatic and less expensive results than more expensive approaches like heat reclamation and variable air volume.

Of course, like any generalized statement, there are some important qualifications that may make the more expensive strategies valuable in certain circumstances.

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will understand the proper way of understanding contributions of fume hood energy saving exhaust techniques serially applied.
  • People will understand it always makes sense to apply the least expensive fume hood energy saving strategies first.
  • People will be able to set realistic and measurable fume hood energy saving objectives and test their effectiveness against predictions.
  • People will include worker behaviors and schedules in their evaluation of fume hood energy saving options.


Bob Haugen has had a career in analytical chemistry at the University of Illinois (DNA, wastewater, and crop research) and Lawrence Livermore Labs in California (nuclear weapons research).

He has designed and tested safety and ventilating equipment for Jamestown Metal Products, Kewaunee Scientific Corporation, and Flow Sciences, Inc. He has also authored textbooks on wastewater and sewage processing for the Illinois Office of Education. 

Currently, Dr. Haugen is employed by Flow Sciences Inc. in Leland, North Carolina.  Dr. Haugen has spent 31 years in the design and testing of lab containment devices and holds patents in air sensing and measurement, fume hood design, and air flow detection in biosafety cabinets.


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