Picture5-(3).pngOne of the ways to improve fuel economy is to reduce idling. This saves fuel and reduces wear and tear on the equipment. That is why many companies offer bonuses based on reduced idle times. More money is always good, so hopefully this blog can help with that.

There are several ways to reduce idling. One of the biggest ways is to have an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit). These not only provide power to keep the  inside of our cabs and bunks comfortable, but they also provide power to watch TV, charge our devices, and cook our food.

There are 2 different types of APU’s. Diesel operated and battery operated. They both have their good points and bad points. That is a topic for a different blog. This blog is only going to be about one type. My company, Nussbaum Transportation, has equipped our vehicles with a battery powered unit. It is quiet, generally maintenance free and doesn’t produce any emissions. It does have a downside though: Depending on your power use the batteries wear down and idling is required to recharge them. This can take up to 2 hours, which is about 2 gallons of fuel. The following are some things I do to make the batteries last longer and reduce the need to idle. Lifetime idle percentage on my truck is right about 1%.

  1. Charge your devices while running. I have 3 devices that require charging, a phone, and 2 tablets. I try to make sure they are plugged in and charging so they are fully charged by the time I shut down for the end of the day. This reduces the need to charge my devices after I have shut the truck off, saving the battery life. It is not much, but every little bit helps.
  2. Cook while you drive. If you cook in your truck using a Crock Pot, Burton Oven, or Hot Logic Mini, having the unit cook as you drive also saves the battery. It also makes your vehicle smell good! Just make sure to secure the unit in some fashion. You don’t want it flying around in the case of an unexpected maneuver.
  3. Microwave before you shut the truck off. If you are going to microwave something, try to do it right after you shut down for the day ,but before you shut the truck off. Five minutes of idle time is better than having to idle for an hour or two to recharge the batteries.
  4. Unplug all non-essentials. All the little things we have plugged into our power ports use energy. The little USB charger for our phones and the plug for our GPS usually have a little light that stays on. Pulling them out saves power. I have a Power strip that my TV, and microwave are plugged into. That way I can shut off the power strip killing the power to the TV and microwave, saving even more power. I only plug in my Blu-Ray player when I use it.
  5. Try not to shut the truck off two hours before the end of the day. It takes approximately two hours to put the charge back into your batteries that are drawn out by starting the truck. Letting it run those final two hours may save having to start your truck back up.

I realize these things are not always possible to do.  However, doing them when you can will extend the time you have before needing to start the truck back up. I am fortunate enough to have Solar Panels on my truck providing even more run time. I hope these help!

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Clark W Reed

Clark Reed of Roscoe, Illinois is an OTR company driver and trainer for Nussbaum Transportation based out of Hudson, Illinois. He has been driving since 2005 and has driven van, reefer, and tanker. He currently hauls dry van to all lower 48 states. Clark is passionate about MPGs and how driver habits influence them. The lifetime average of his 2018 Cascadia is 9.75 mpg, with eyes on 10. Clark, along with Henry Albert, was one of the seven drivers in 2017's "Run on Less" by NACFE, a road show, demonstrating what fuel efficiency can be obtained with existing technologies.

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