A popular way of reducing the environmental impact of a product is to reduce the amount of energy it uses.
Studies have shown that the use phase has the largest environmental impact across the product lifecycle. For this reason, reducing the energy during use is a popular approach for companies wanting to consider ecodesign. This has also been encouraged by energy labelling which encourages companies to achieve a low energy consumption level.
To reduce the energy consumed by a product during use:
- look for synergies - can the product be linked into a system in a way which will save resources?
- look for waste - where is 'waste' occurring? consider stand-by energy, inefficient use...
- design for part loading - does your design give users the option of operating at half load... this saves a lot of energy
- design for a range of conditions - consider efficiency over a range of conditions
- plan today for future upgrades - some energy-efficient features may be too difficult for the product being developed today, but may become possible in the future
- use user centred research techniques to identify how consumers actually use the product - do not make assumptions
- use computer modelling - use computers to support work simple computer models can be very useful for wide-ranging ‘what if?’ studies
- specify energy efficient consumables to accompany the product
- provide feedback to consumers on how much energy they are using - for further information see the educate the user section