Tip #2 Idling

Welcome back. In our first installment I discussed slowing down. Our second factor is also one that can save you thousands of dollars. Idling. Depending on what you are doing now, you can spend nothing to reduce or eliminate idling or you can spend alot. We all like to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The difficult decision is how to accomplish this. Let’s look at the facts. When you idle your truck your engine is going to burn between a gallon and 1.5 gallons per hour depending on the RPM’s you are idling at. Let’s just say you idle for 8 hours a night. Using $2.50 per gallon (which is below the current national average) it will cost you $20.00 to idle for that 8 hour period. If you are on the road for 5 nights in a week it will cost you $100 for just one week! Everyone’s choice is different but let’s just say that you work 48 weeks out of the year and take 4 weeks off. It will cost you $4,800 to idle your truck for 8 hours a night during that 48 week period!! That’s alot of coin. How many more days/miles would you have to drive to make up that $4,800?
If you idle more than 15 hours during any given week you might want to consider an alternative. Even at 15 hours per week we are talking about $1,800 using the above figures. The cheapest solution is to stop idling altogether. But how do we remain comfortable? I remember one of Kevin’s shows when he asked his listeners the same question. Listeners called up with so many different things that they were doing that it took up all of his Saturday show and a good portion of his Sunday show as well. For cooling, the choices will range from something as simple as a 12V oscillating fan that plugs into the cigarette lighter in you truck ($9 at Walmart and a better product than what is sold in truckstops for $14.99) to an APU (Alternative Power Unit) that can cost more than $10,000. Battery powered systems such as the “Nite” system are gaining in popularity as battery technology improves. When it comes to heat you have the same APU or battery powered choices as we had for cooling but they are the most expensive. On the low cost side there are units sold in truckstops and elsewhere that plug into the cigarette lighter. Depending on how cold it is they may not do the job. Another option is called an “Espar” heater. It is small and mounts under your sleeper bunk in most trucks. In 2008 it cost about $1,100 installed and burns very little diesel fuel from your fuel tanks. Do a Google search for more info.
Whether it’s cooling or heating there are dozens of options. It depends alot on how much you want to spend and how quickly you want to recoup your ROI (Return On Investment). You also need to think about how long you are going to be keeping your truck. That may affect your decision on how much to spend because some solutions can be swapped from one truck to another while others are more difficult (and expensive) to do so.
I would also recommend that you keep a log to discover just how much you idle. It doesn’t need to be very involved or fancy. You only need to write down the date, the number of hours you idled and why you idled (hot or cold weather etc.). Once you know how much you idle, you’ll know how much you can save by using an alternative source. That’s it for now. Until next time, slow down, stop idling and be safe out there.

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