If you know me, you are aware that I’m somewhat thrifty or some may say cheap when it comes to saving money on the road.


I’m not big on idling due to the wear and tear that it puts on the truck engine and the waste of fuel associated with this practice. For me, I sleep much better knowing that I’m saving money and not wasting fuel. I read a report earlier in my career that idling for an 8 hour period was somewhere equivalent to driving for 400-450 miles. I forget the exact numbers, but I remember it had an impact on me. I didn’t want my engine wearing out while I was sitting still.


If you have just started driving as an owner operator then you’re aware that fuel is one of the major costs of the business. Let’s just say that you idle your truck for four nights a week for ten hours. On average, you’ll use 1 gallon of fuel per hour. We’ll use a low number such as $3.50 per gallon for this scenario. 3.5 gallons x 10 hours = $35.00 per night. This cost is just on fuel alone and doesn’t take into account for the wear and tear on the engine. If you idled four nights x $35.00 the cost for fuel is $140.00 per week. At these figures, if you drove 48 weeks per year, the total cost comes to $6,720.00 in fuel cost alone.


If you saved this money by not idling, you would accumulate the money needed to purchase many modern conveniences for your truck. An “Aux. Power Unit” today costs approximately $8,000-$12,000. Once you can afford one of these, you’ll be comfortable in all weather conditions without having to idle your truck. I realize there are times when it’s too hot or too cold to go without heat or air but many nights, it is possible with a few low cost amenities.

 

This fan served me for many years before being put away into storage. I chose this fan as it had a maximum 3 amp draw from my batteries.

 


For years, in the summertime, I used a large high quality 12 volt fan in the side window of my sleeper. As long as the temperatures were below 80, I was able to be reasonably comfortable with the fan alone. The total investment cost for me back then for this piece was just $70.00. In the cold winter months, I used a 12 volt heating pad which pinned to the mattress. This pad kept me warm all night. However, in the morning when I slipped out from under the covers to get up, the truck was very cold.


In using these 12 volt accessories, it’s very important to know if your truck is equipped with a low voltage disconnect system. If so, the truck will disconnect all of your accessories before discharging the batteries to the level which would restart the truck. If not, there are many low cost battery guards which will plug onto the end of your accessories cord for just around $10-$15.


In referring back to my previous blog titled “Back to Basics”, many of you are award that I’m currently

 

 

My ElectroWarmth mattress heating pad is my low cost heating accessory.

driving a rental truck temporarily. This truck is not equipped with the latest heat/air comforts and therefore, I found myself digging for those old accessories as I’ve once again needed them for this rental truck. They’ve been packed away for eight years now and to my surprise they still work! I’m back to using the window fan on these hot summer nights. Winter is just around the corner therefore, I might just get to use the heating pad as well. So far, I’ve not idled in the rental truck at all.


Over these eight years, I’ve come to enjoy the comforts of air conditioning and heat in the truck. However, getting back to the basics is still possible if needed.

 

Comments (8)

Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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I've been using my box fan for years. Not only at night but while I'm driving to keep the AC off thus saving fuel.

September 07, 2014 16:54:36 PM

For the winter a good sleeping bag was a must I would often put on my long johns the night before which made dressing the next morning a bit quicker and warmer. Thanks mom for giving me the coldest bedroom in the house as a kid!!!

On a side note many companies are ordering sleepers with the tiny vents or no openings for the bottom of the sleeper at all which makes staying cool a real challenge

September 06, 2014 9:18:23 AM

Its funny how we survived in years gone by with all those 12v accessories. I had the heated blanket, the fan like yours Henry, coffee maker, fry pan and small pot. They were a great way to get by when away from home.I too am spoiled by my ParkSmart system, microwave and inverter.

September 04, 2014 20:57:46 PM

Hey you know what they say $ if it don't make money it don't make $$$$$.

September 03, 2014 17:08:37 PM

Oh yes-- Pre-Apu living. Spent many a night and day trying to stay comfortable.

September 03, 2014 10:38:59 AM

This is some great advice, Henry! No use in wasting the money if you can just get a little creative.

September 03, 2014 10:05:58 AM

I use a fan, breezes screens, and a 12 volt bunk warmer that pins to the mattress. The bunk warmer has kept me warm even when it's 8 degrees outside.

September 03, 2014 8:59:07 AM

My park smart system has spoiled me. But, yes I was a camper. Running almost all upper Midwest cooling was rarely a problem. Pre cooling the sleeper usually worked. Winter time I kept a good sleeping bag and got good at dressing quickly.

September 03, 2014 5:50:05 AM