If your support staff runs through cans of compressed air like there’s no tomorrow, this money-saving tip sent in by member Justin Adams, who works for Ohio State University, may save your office-supply budget a bundle of overtime.

“One thing that we did to reduce costs was purchase a refillable compressed air canister [system],” Adams wrote. “This way, we can do regular preventative maintenance without the heavy overhead costs of regular compressed air.”

Adam’s shop uses the ReAir rechargeable air canisters that can be refilled up to 100 times using any air compressor, the mini-compressor, or the manual pump that you can buy from the same company (see Figure A).

Figure A
The ReAir product line includes reusable cans, a mini-compressor, and a manual pump.

The ReAir company doesn’t have its own Web site, but any search engine should bring up links to office-supply stores that sell ReAir products. Each ReAir canister costs about $13 (compared to $11 for a regular office/electronics duster).

The canisters can be recharged at your local gas station’s tire filling hose or from an air compressor (if your organization has one). For another $60 to $70, you can buy the ReAir mini-compressor, which can save you time and energy.

The ReAir system can definitely demonstrate the benefits of scaling factors. The more cans of compressed air your department goes through, the more money this device will save you on your office-supply budget.

How much can you save? Let’s say your support department has 10 technicians and they each have their own can of compressed air, and they each go through about one can a month. Using these numbers, if your department is buying individual cans at $11 each, each technician uses $132 in canned air per year. The department will spend $1,320 per year for cans for the 10 techs.

If you buy each of your techs a ReAir rechargeable canister at $13 per tech, it will cost you $130 for cans the first year, but they ought to last for eight years (figuring 100 uses divided by 12). Add in the $70 mini-compressor for convenience equivalent of just grabbing another can, and your eight-year bill will total $200 for the department (see Figure B).

Figure B
Savings add up after the initial expense of the ReAir system.

Using ReAir can save the department $1,120 the first year and at least $1,320 per year for the next seven years—a savings of $10,360 during the theoretical life of the cans and mini-compressor, without inflation added in. This assumes the mini-compressor and cans last the entire company-specified lifetime of 100 uses per can, etc. However, even the first-year savings can make a difference, so this is one product you might want to consider adding to your support department’s budget.