How businesses can save money from thin air

Published on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 14:29
Posted by Scott Buckler

UK businesses could save up to £110m a year by taking simple low and no cost actions to improve their compressed air systems and processes, according to new guidance published by the Carbon Trust

Contrary to perception, compressed air is not a free or low cost resource and accounts for around 10% of UK industry’s electricity consumption - equivalent to the annual output of nearly 1.5 power stations and over 5 million tonnes of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere.

The Carbon Trust’s new guide provides practical advice on choosing an air compressor, maintenance, leak prevention and using compressed air appropriately. By following these simple measures, businesses across a range of sectors can make significant cuts to their electricity spend on compressed air. In the industrial sector for example, a typical business* could save £1,500 a year by improving their compressed air processes and systems.

Richard Rugg, Director, Carbon Trust Programmes, said:

There is a misconception that compressed air is a free or low cost resource, when – in fact – the opposite is true. Just a single 3mm hole in a compressed air system creates a leak, which can cost a business an additional £1,000 a year in electricity costs.

This is not a niche problem. Compressed air is being used across industries as diverse as aircraft manufacturing, water treatment, electronics and engineering. Our new guide provides practical and easy to implement advice that will enable businesses to cut their electricity spend on compressed air by up to a third.”

The Compressed Air Overview guide is part of the Carbon Trust's Expert in Energy series. The Carbon Trust is also running a free webinar on how to significantly reduce running costs and improve the efficiency of your compressed air systems at 12pm, 30 January 2012. Download the guides and sign up to secure your webinar place at

Fox Wire are an independent steel wire manufacturer based in South Yorkshire that relies on an air compressor to supply pneumatic power at its factory.  However, as different projects require different amounts of air, the existing compressor wasn’t appropriate for their needs as it remained on steadily, even when it wasn’t in use.

With assistance from the Carbon Trust, Fox Wire replaced the old compressor with a new variable speed air compressor, allowing it to precisely control the power used. The new device uses 30% less electricity – equivalent to annual savings of over £6,500, a payback period of less than two years, and CO2 savings of 50.5 tonnes.


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