Much attention is given to the issue of cost control, when in reality; ‘waste control’ is more of a concern for truckers. When you are on the road, it’s very common to idle your engine. However, just because idling is common, doesn’t make it smart. Often, people do not realize that idling can be an excessive waste of fuel. Idling is primarily used as a means of powering climate control devises and sleeper compartment accessories, and to prevent start-up problems in cold weather.
Does reducing idle time reduce your cost per mile? Absolutely! Think about it… Reducing idle time decreases fuel, and therefore, will increase your profit. Idling requires about a gallon of fuel per hour, so if you idle eight hours a day, this will cost you approximately $215 dollars a week. On average, idling costs $10,215 in fuel alone each year. And these costs do not include the added engine maintenance that will result from excessive idling. It is a common misconception that idling the engine uses less fuel than turning it off and restarting. By idling for only 30 seconds, you will use more fuel than if you turn simply off the engine and restart it. So, you are actually spending more money by idling. Component wear caused by restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of driving. This is much less than the cost of idling for any significant amount of time.
The cost of idling your vehicle is not only money, but can be safety as well. Idling generates unnecessary auto pollution, wastes fuel, and can cause excessive engine wear. Prolonged exposure to pollution is linked to health problems, like respiratory infections, and cancer. The highest exposure occurs while sitting in an idling vehicle (http://www.hcdoes.org/airquality/anti-idling/idle.htm
). For this reason, many states, counties, and cities have idling reduction laws with fines as high as $25,000. If you avoid idling, you avoid wasting money and unnecessary health risks. Here are some easy ways to minimize your idling time:
Purchase an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit). An APU allows you to stop idling, but still gives you power for your electronics. It also allows you the ability to feed yourself in your truck, which increases the savings benefits. This is an expensive item and may not be an option due to the age of your truck, or the available funds. Click here for a list of reviews and pricing for APUs. Keep in mind that an APU can pay for itself pretty quickly. Run a budget, the budget will tell you if an APU will be a good investment.
Purchase a Truck with a ParksSmart HVAC System. If you are in the market for a new truck, Freightliner Cascadia’s are now offering an integrated auxiliary HVAC system for the Sleeper that contains an electrically driven AC compressor and a diesel fired coolant heater. This system is replacing the traditional auxiliary HVAC system for the sleeper and functions whether the truck engine is on or off. If utilize power from the alternator, or from a second bank of batteries and keeps the sleeper compartment warm (or cool). The system provides 8 to10 hours of performance in engine off mode.
Besides purchasing an APU or if you are not in the market for a new truck, there are other alternatives to idling and while they may not be quite as comfortable, it will still save you time and money in the long run.
Extra bedding. An extra blanket for when it’s cold outside and window screens for when the weather is warm make it easier to turn off the engine.
Remote Starter. For about $80 dollars you can buy a remote starter with a temperatures sensor that will start the truck at a specified temperature. This is a great accessory to have in cities with regulations against truck idling.
There are occasions where it will be necessary for you to idle your vehicle. But the more you can cut down your idling time, the more you’ll be saving. Ultimately, the most important thing is to do whatever is necessary to be warm and rested, and keep your truck in good condition. Whether you choose to make changes in how often you idle, make sure you and your business are not suffering for it.