If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: compressed air typically accounts for up to 40 percent of a manufacturing facility’s total energy bill. If you haven’t been actively looking for ways to increase the energy efficiency of your compressed air system, today is the day to get started.
The most expensive component in the total cost of compressed air—including capital costs and service and maintenance costs—is energy consumption. In fact, over the lifespan of a compressor, energy typically costs several times more than the purchase price of the compressor. Thus, maximizing energy efficiency saves money, while also contributing positively to the environment.
Top 10 Ways to Increase Compressed Air Energy Efficiency
To help get you started on the path to energy savings, we’ve summarized the top 10 ways to increase the energy efficiency of your compressed air system today.
Turn It Off. Set your machines to switch off when they are not being used. Depending on your shift pattern, turning your compressors off during evenings and weekends could reduce your energy bills up to 20 percent.
Fix Existing Leaks. Start with the oldest and biggest pipes; remember that approximately 80 percent of air leaks are not audible so you may need a third party auditor to help detect leaks.
Prevent New Leaks. It’s simple: dry and filtered compressed air keeps piping dust- and sludge- free, which helps prevent new leaks from forming.
Reduce Pressure. Run at required pressures, not beyond, and remember each 2 psig reduction cuts energy consumption by one percent.
Check Drains. Are your timer condensate drains stuck open? If so, you could be wasting compressed air. Go one step further and replace timer drains with zero-loss drains to save.
Review Piping Infrastructure. Increasing the size of your pipe from two to three inches can reduce pressure drops by up to 50 percent. Shortening the distance air has to travel can further reduce pressure drops by about 20 to 40 percent.
Change Filters Systematically. Just as you change the oil in your car at scheduled intervals to ensure optimum performance, be sure to change the filters in your air compressor and air system regularly to ensure air quality and to prevent pressure drops.
Emphasize Proper Maintenance. Proper compressor maintenance cuts energy costs by approximately one percent and helps prevent breakdowns that result in downtime and lost production.
Stop inappropriate use of compressed air. Inappropriate uses of compressed air include any application that can be done more effectively or more efficiently by a method other than compressed air.
The list above is just a summary of points to consider when looking for ways to increase energy efficiency. In many compressed air installations, significant energy saving solutions can be realized by employing Atlas Copco’s energy and air consultants who will determine an acceptable operating balance to satisfy your production needs and minimize your operational running costs.