The Resource rss

Helping communities and businesses access compliance, technical and financial assistance for their environmental needs.


Does your business use an air compressor?

If you answered yes, then you can probably save money on your electric bill by evaluating your air compressor use. Compressed air is expensive because system efficiency is about 10-15 percent. Most energy used to create compressed air is released as heat. Air compressors require seven to eight horsepower (HP) input to operate a one-HP air motor, making it one of the most expensive utilities for a business.

Leak management is a low-cost approach with quick payback. An inexpensive way to locate leaks is to use an ultrasonic leak detector, which recognizes the high frequency hissing sounds caused by air leaks. A hand-held detector costs about $300 and makes an audible sound so you can identify leaks. Leaks can decrease output, cause unnecessary cycling and increased run time, decrease compressor life and increase energy and operating costs. Developing and implementing a maintenance program can help equipment work efficiently.

Your business may also be able to recover some of the heat produced by the compressor units. Some air compressors are built with heat exchangers and fans so you can add ductwork to re-use warm air or direct hot air outside the building during warm-weather periods. Hot air from compressors can be used for industrial drying or to preheat air for other uses.

You may find using rechargeable battery-powered tools instead of air-powered tools can reduce demand for compressed air. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website has resources like software tools, training and publications to help improve performance and save energy in compressed air systems. Maintaining and checking your compressor today for leaks can save you money.

Ohio EPA’s Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) provides free pollution prevention assessments to help identify opportunities to save your business money and incorporate more of your resources into your products. If you’re interested or to learn more, please email Bill Narotski at william.narotski@epa.ohio.gov or call (800) 329-7518. OCAPP's services are free and confidential.