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Compressed air efficiency: a great way to cut energy costs

Image showing potential compressed air leaks
Educate your employees about the cost of compressed air leaks. Encourage everyone to be on the lookout for leaks.

A single compressed air leak can cost $10,000 a year

Compressed air is the single most expensive utility in most industrial operations. If you don't keep your air system running efficiently, it can eat a big hole in your bottom line.

A quarter-inch leak is so small you might never notice it. But a single leak in a system running at 100 psi wastes a whopping 122,000 kWh of energy per year — enough to power about 11 B.C. homes.

At a cost close to $10,000 per year*, that's an expensive problem. And most compressed air systems have multiple leaks. Fixing them not only saves money, it also helps your production processes run more smoothly and reduces wear and tear on your compressor.

Here are a few tips to deal with leaks and other money-wasting uses of compressed air.

  1. Establish a regular routine to check for leaks.
    Develop a routine monthly (or even weekly) routine for all machine operators to quickly inspect hoses, valves, nozzles and other components of your air system. Tag every leak. Collect information about leaks centrally and ensure someone is responsible for keeping on top of routine repairs.
  2. Make it everyone's job to identify and repair leaks.
    Educate your employees about the cost of compressed air leaks. Encourage everyone to be on the lookout for leaks. Recognize good ideas and celebrate your savings.
  3. Plug other "holes" — discourage inappropriate use of compressed air.
    When employees are unaware of the costs, compressed air gets used for the wrong tasks: blowing debris off the floor (use a broom), cooling (use a fan) or moving material within a production system (install a blower or conveyor).

Learn more

Resources from the Compressed Air Challenge:

*Costs have been calculated using a blended electricity rate of $0.08/KWh for distribution customers, based on a compressor running full-time (24/7).