Idling a diesel engine does not save you money on fuel. Matter of fact, depending on the size of your fleet, you could be wasting thousands of dollars every month. The average heavy duty diesel engine burns around .8 gallons of fuel per hour. Multiply that by the average down time for drivers (40 hours a week) with the current cost of diesel fuel and you have a large portion of your income going out the exhaust pipe.
This subject has created much debate between fleet manager and driver. On the one hand, comfort level of drivers in their downtime is a necessity. On the other hand, fleet managers need to save money and cut costs to keep the company profitable. We want drivers on the road that are rested, alert, and safety compliant. If they are not getting the proper amount of sleep due to a cold cab, then everyone sharing the roads will be affected.
How Do You Solve the Diesel Idling Problem?
- Fleet managers can invest in Auxillary Power Units that will have a sizeable upfront charge, but ultimately end up paying for themselves in a few years due to the fuel cost savings from idling.
- Owner operators can invest in multiple items to help keep them comfortable in cold weather down time. Such as mattress pads, down comforters, sub-zero sleeping bags etc. There is a more in-depth article discussing cheaper solutions with 9 practical ways truck drivers stay warm at night
Auxillary Power Units (APU) come in battery powered or diesel powered. Depending on the scenario you are dealing with, diesel may be the more cost-effective option because they only use .2 gallons of fuel per hour. You will end up having minor maintenance costs with filter and belt replacement, but that is a small price to pay when the battery powered option will most likely not be able to last for 8 hours without turning off. If you are a fleet manager looking to invest in APU’s, its best to purchase diesel powered.
Owner operators don’t have the luxury of spending $7,000 on a diesel powered APU, but you should still work out a budget to double check whether investing in a diesel powered APU would be profitable for your business.
Why Do People Think Idling Saves Money?
This common myth came about when diesel fuel used to have problems with gelling. Today, refiners use blends specifically for cold weather and gelling is no longer an issue for diesel engines. Even though this gelling issue has been solved for quite some time, people still believe it’s the best thing for the engine. Idling decreases the life of your normal wear and tear items, increases pollutants in the environment, and could be a subject to fines in certain states. Not only that, you would be costing yourself up to $2,000 in maintenance costs (according to the American Trucking Association) per year.
How Do You Get Comfortable in Hot Weather Without an APU?
We know that there are multiple hacks to keep your cab warm in the winter without an APU, but how can drivers (who mostly drive in hot locations) keep their cab cool in the downtime?
- Purchasing a sleeping bag with ventilation features can help maintain temperatures for longer periods of time. For example, we have used the Nemo sleeping bags while camping in the summer time and were pleasantly surprised at its ability to maintain temperatures. They are a little pricey, but for owner operators you can deduct them as an expense during tax season. (we are not tax experts and you should seek advice from a CPA or other tax professional before you make any tax decisions within your operation.)
- Using Cool Rag’s could help you maintain a cooler temperature long enough to fall asleep in the back of your cab. Hot temperatures make it difficult to fall asleep because you will have a hard time getting comfortable. Driver’s have found that staying cool long enough to fall asleep could help you sleep through the hotter temperatures later in the night.
- Wearing cotton clothing is the best option for staying cool. Cotton clothing is breathable, light, and will soak up liquid rather easily.
After reading this article, you probably realized that it’s more difficult to keep your cab cool in hot temperatures when compared to keeping your cab warm in cold temperatures. This is why you or your fleet should invest in Auxillary Power Units to save money, increase driver comfort, and decrease pollution.
Encore Protection is in no way affiliated with the links used above. We have found these articles and products to be useful to this subject and therefore are posting them for information purposes only.