Almost all industrial businesses use an air compressor because it is a safe, reliable way to transmit energy, however they can be more energy wasting than energy saving if they are not looked after or used in an efficient way.

Is your air compressor using too much energy compared to your other pieces of equipment? Here’s why you should look into energy saving methods for your air compressor and how you can significantly reduce energy consumption.

Why Invest in Energy Saving Techniques?

Although going green has been a major trend over the last few years, jumping on the band wagon is not the only reason for investing in energy saving techniques. Making your operation more sustainable and switching to green technology is a smart move because:

Lower Production Costs

Using outdated equipment automatically means your energy costs will be higher. Modern equipment is sustainable for both the planet and for your energy bills. If you choose not to invest in green technology, you will be more susceptible to fluctuating energy costs and won’t be eligible for any government tax incentives.

Better Company Reputation

Image: © Atlas Copco Group

With more people becoming more environmentally conscious, if your company was to follow in their footsteps, your reputation would grow a lot more than if you were to stick with energy wasting processes and equipment. By not investing in green compressed air technology, you may be viewed as an obstacle to a more sustainable future and your company would not be seen as progressive or innovative to both staff and customers.

Complete Conviction for the Future

Investing in green compressed air technology futureproofs your company, so you can have peace of mind in case any changes arise. As the entire world is moving towards sustainability, there will be more and more regulations and laws enforced to make this happen. Old fashioned equipment and out of date processes may have to be replaced but if you have already implemented green technology, you have nothing to worry about.

Air Compressor Energy Saving Tips

Before Purchasing New Equipment & Installation

1. Replace Your Compressed Air System

Rather than repairing your old, run down air compressor and spending money on parts when the likelihood of it needing more reparations in the future is extremely high, why not invest in brand new equipment? Redesigned with energy efficiency in mind, a new system would benefit your business operations in the long run and would save you a lot of money too.

    2. Review the Size of Your Air Compressor

    If you choose an air compressor that is too small, it can lead to production problems. If you choose an air compressor that is too big, it can lead to increased costs due to wasted energy. This is why you need to base the size of the air compressor directly on your specific requirements.

    • How often you will use the equipment on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis?
    • How much air flow will be used and if there will be fluctuations, what standard of air quality is needed?
    • Are there any minimum pressure requirements?
    • Do you have any plans for future expansion?

    For small-scale applications, a portable air compressor may be better for you and the planet. Or, instead of using one large air compressor for all operations for larger demand, you could use a system with separate units and fixed air line distribution pipework. This way, you have dedicated compressed air units for specific applications.

    3. Install the Correct Type of Air Compressor

    Image: © Atlas Copco Group

    As well as the air compressor size, you need to make sure that you have the correct type of compressor installed that meets your production needs too, so you don’t produce more energy than you need to. Each kind of air compressor has different qualities which match different demands, for example:

    • Oil-free air compressors are ideally suited for sensitive applications such as: pharmaceutical, food and drink processing
    • Piston air compressors are ideally suited for the lower volume use due to small size and portability
    • VSD (Variable Speed Drive) air compressors are ideally suited if your production process requires different levels of demand in different periods, due to flexibility
    • Centrifugal air compressors are ideally suited for larger production industries due to large size and high flow

    4. Choose the Right Dryer & Filter

    There are also many different dryers and filters available for your air compressor, and it is vital that you choose the right ones for your application. If you pair the incorrect dryer with your air compressor, you run the risk of wasting both energy and money.

    You should not dry your compressed air more than your application requires, so one suggestion is that you consider a refrigerant-type dryer and then only dry further if required. Do not use more filters than necessary; by changing your filters regularly and assessing the quality of them, you can avoid your pressure dropping and therefore losing money.

    After Installing New Equipment

    5. Switch It Off After Not Being Used

    Did you know that an idling compressor can still use 40% of its full load? This is why you should always switch it off when it is not being used. Something as simple as turning it off over the weekend and overnight, could save a considerable amount of energy. Plus, if production time is short, you will be able to avoid any energy wastage.

    Another option is to implement compressor controllers. If there is no central controller for your air compressors, then the compressor pressure bands should have been set up in a cascade method. Also, the on-board controllers will stop the machines if they are not needed when the compressed air target pressure is achieved.

    6. Undertake Regular Air Compressor Maintenance

    Image: © Atlas Copco Group

    If your air compressor is in tip-top shape, then it will be performing to the best of its ability. By carrying out regular maintenance procedures, you can guarantee that your compressed air system will deliver the required pressure using a sustainable amount of energy.

    This includes consistently changing filter elements and the oil, checking the condensate collection, and keeping the coils clean and cool. More efficiency means more energy efficiency and by not servicing your compressed air system, you will see opposite results such as more downtime, increased energy consumption and potentially a breakdown.

    7. Keep Your Air Compressor Clean

    The dirtier your air compressor components are, the more energy they will need to use to perform regular tasks. Plus, if your environment is dirtier, you will need to clean your air compressor more frequently; ‘dirty’ air means the compressor has to work harder, therefore consuming more energy. Cleaning the coolers, ventilation, and radiators will keep them clear and optimise power use.

    Also, by treating at the point of use rather than the entire supply, you will not waste the energy used when applying treatment. Treating your air can significantly improve your compressor efficiency by ensuring that it is maintained correctly. A higher quality of air can be achieved by implementing these treatment solutions, consequently allowing your system to run smoothly and perform better.

    8. Fix & Prevent Corrosion & Leaks

    One of the biggest sources of wasted energy in air compressors are air leaks; compressed air installation of more than 5 years old has an average 20% of air leakage. Easy to ignore, they lead to your air compressor working harder, therefore consuming and wasting more energy and causing a huge amount on your bill.

    It is definitely worth your time to assess your compressed air systems and detect any leaks. If any are found, fix and eliminate them immediately in order to save energy costs right away. Also, be proactive by looking inside your pipes to check for signs that could lead to corrosion and leaks. By keeping your pipes clean and dry, you will reduce dust and sludge which normally leads to more leaks.

    At Air Power East, we can help identify any leakage with our hi-tech leak detection equipment. If you would like to discuss this in greater detail or wish to learn more about how leak detection can reduce energy use as well as save money, please contact Jason on 01359 251180 or jason@airpowereast.co.uk.

    9. Deal with Compressed Air Condensate Correctly

    Image: © Atlas Copco Group

    Damage can be caused to condensate drains either at the compressor intake or via the airstream along the system itself. Drains stuck in the open position can be a huge waste of energy in major plants. When a drain cannot eject all the compressed air condensate, oil or water builds up, impacting filter efficiency and transferring into the system.

    It is essential for air compressor owners to know how to properly dispose of the condensate responsibly in order to comply with the laws. Incorrect disposal is not only harmful to the environment but can result in fines and damage to business reputation. Disposal of functional condensate and treated condensate differs, so make sure you familiarise yourself with this so you are compliant and energy efficient.

    10. Lower the Air Compressor Pressure

    By evaluating your systems requirements and reducing the pressure wherever you can, you can relieve the stress on the internal equipment, therefore reducing energy consumption. Check each machine and, if they can run at a lower pressure, reduce the pressure in your air net by 1 bar (14.5 psi) to save 7% in electrical energy costs.

    Always check the minimum air pressure that your air tools and equipment need before adjusting; you still need to be able to use your equipment efficiently! Also, you could consider installing an automatic pressure controller that adapts to different pressure needs. That way, you will always have the most every saving air pressure setting.

    11. Eliminate Inappropriate Use

    Is compressed air the best power source for particular jobs? If you are using your compressed air system for something that can be done more efficiently by another method, you should always choose that more resourceful process, as this will use less energy. Many businesses misuse compressed air for operations without realising the impact. Find more efficient alternatives and save both energy and money!

    Also, if your compressor demands have altered over time and your system does not seem to run as efficiently anymore, it may be time to assess your plant piping. Modifications and pipe increases may be necessary to improve and optimise your system.

    12. Recover Waste Heat to Save Energy

    Image: © Atlas Copco Group

    Waste heat is produced by air compressors and instead of releasing this into the atmosphere, use it for other applications to save your energy consumption. Recovering heat from compressed air means you can save money on heating, decrease operating costs, reduce CO2 emissions and therefore your carbon footprint. Typical heat recoveries are between 70-94% and can be used for other applications like:

    • Heating your workspace
    • Keeping the air dry and reducing damp
    • Heating the water system
    • Producing steam for industrial processes

    13. Utilise Cooler Air Intake

    An air compressor will run more efficiently if the intake air is a cooler temperature. Even a 5°C increase in air inlet temperature will lead to a reduction in your compressor’s performance, so it is better to draw air from the outside rather than the inside. Make sure there is always enough ventilation to eliminate efficiency loss and for optimum energy saving.

    14. Invest in the Internet of Things (IoT)

    Modern technology has allowed air compressor maintenance to become even more efficient. Real-time reporting has enabled users to monitor the performance of the compressed air system and send predictive notifications, including energy consumption and performance improvement indicators. This means users can ensure maximum uptime and energy efficiency.

    15. Conduct Air Compressor Training Sessions

    It is important for you and your employees to understand how your air compressor equipment works, how well it is performing and how much it is costing your company. By making people aware of this essential information, you will be able to keep on top of energy saving and its expenses.

    Image: © Atlas Copco Group

    ENERGY saving AIR COMPRESSOR INSTALLATION & SERVICING

    At Air Power East, we can help you conduct a comprehensive air audit before choosing your equipment and installing your new air compressor. We also offer air compressor servicing which could help you draw up a maintenance plan for your air compressor and keep it running energy efficiently.

    If you have any question about reducing your compressed energy costs, please contact us today on 01359 251180 or fill out our contact form here.

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