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Compressed Air System Optimization 


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Compressed air isn't free, yet it's often taken for granted

Typically Ontario manufacturers spend 5 to 20 per cent of their total electricity bills on compressed air. Many systems, because they’re not optimized, are using 20 to 50 per cent more electricity than necessary. That makes them a real target for energy savings.




What are your costs for compressed air?

Many operators have never monitored the energy use of individual components in their system, and therefore don’t know the true costs. This table outlines the typical per motor consumption costs based on the number of shifts you’re running (assumes $0.10/kWh).

Do an inventory of your compressors and how they’re used to estimate your energy costs.


Follow these steps to optimize your system:


Determine whether your system is a candidate for energy savings


  • Symptoms of inefficiency include: air leaks, shortages of air, excess maintenance and moisture carryover.
  • Simply adding an extra air compressor to meet air demand requirements is rarely the best option.

Contact Toronto Hydro to discuss your system and initiate an application for incentive funding


  • You may qualify for up to 100 per cent funding to hire an expert to do a system audit.
  • The audit report will identify opportunities for savings, and help make a business case for improvements.

Implement equipment improvements

  • You may also qualify for an incentive of up to 70 per cent of eligible capital costs to implement energy-efficiency changes.
  • Capital equipment such as efficient compressors, zero loss drains, piping modifications and other changes may qualify.

Commission the updated equipment and operate it for peak performance.

  • Continue to monitor and repair air leaks and reduce system pressure where feasible.
  • Develop a baseline and monitor the energy consumption and airflow for ongoing cost savings.


Download the PDF overview > 


Look for opportunities
to save


Finding the right savings solution isn't always obvious

Start your savings by increasing efficiency:

  • Repair air leaks – they can waste 20 to 40 per cent of the total electricity used. Fixing a 1/16” diameter air leak saves about $200 per year per shift (based on 100 psig system pressure).
  • Use outdoor intakes for cooler air to improve compressor efficiency.
  • Redesign undersized piping as it wastes electricity due to high pressure drops.
  • Implement zero loss drains to get rid of moisture but not air.
  • Use a system controller for multiple compressors to save electricity through staging.
  • A variable speed compressor helps with part load flows.
  • Receiver tanks can help with short-term demand.
  • Reducing air pressure by 2 pounds (psig) delivers about 1 per cent in electricity savings.


Toronto Hydro can help. Start with an energy audit or engineering study by a qualified professional. The larger your compressed air system, the more beneficial you’ll find this step. Depending on size and operating patterns, there are three potential paths to have your system audited:

  1. For compressed air systems that have the potential to save 350 MWh/year, 100 per cent funding up to $50,000 is available through the Detailed Engineering Study program
  2. For compressed air systems that have the potential to save 100 MWh/year, 100 per cent funding up to $10,000 is available through the Preliminary Engineering Study program
  3. Under the AUDIT FUNDING program, you can qualify for incentives of up to 50 per cent of the cost of the audit to a maximum of $5,000.

The auditor’s study will pinpoint ways to boost efficiency and identify cost benefits and priorities for implementation.

Implementation Incentives

The energy study or audit reports can then be used to support your application for either the PROCESS AND SYSTEMS upgrade program or RETROFIT PROGRAM. These programs provide financial incentives of up to 70 per cent of eligible project costs to replace or upgrade inefficient equipment with high-efficiency equipment.


Leave energy to our experts

We'll take care of everything from start to finish — and the paperwork in between.

General inquiries:


Contact an Energy Expert directly


Don't know where to start?


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