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Aug 25

Idle Reduction: A Win for Everyone

Posted on August 25, 2017 at 9:00 AM by Andy Tudhope


Energy efficiency is sometimes referred to as the “fifth” fuel, the “invisible” fuel, or the “cheapest fuel,” because one of the most effective ways to cut fuel costs is to simply cut the amount of fuel wasted. One way to waste less is to curb unnecessary engine idling. The Argonne National Labs recently estimated that each year in the United States, cars and trucks consume over 6 billion gallons of fuel each year “without even moving.” They burn that much fuel just by idling! It’s no surprise that Washington fleet managers and supporters of sustainable energy alike are discovering the benefits of idle reduction, and saving money in the process.

Idling is defined as using an engine for non-propulsion purposes. Idle reduction comes in two forms: turning off the engine when it’s not in use and technology upgrades that can be installed on vehicles to keep power running through the vehicle without operating the engine. Such technology upgrades come in many forms, such as auxiliary power units (APUs), battery-operated heaters, and other systems.

Earlier this summer, Western Washington Clean Cites partnered with the Snohomish County Public Utility District to host a workshop focused on technology systems that decrease idling, save fuel and reduce pollution. The event featured presentations on idle reduction systems for different applications, (such as work trucks, fire engines, and ambulances) and included two engaging panel sessions where participants were able to discuss idle reduction technologies with those who already use them in their own fleets. This facilitated a candid dialogue about the barriers and myths associated with idling reduction. A technology display allowed everyone to get an up-close look at idle reduction technology installed in emergency vehicles.


Source: Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EREE),

Fleets are clearly recognizing the benefits of idling reduction and adopting these technologies. A recent report  by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency highlights 13 major fleets that have adopted idle reduction technologies over the last decade. The chart above demonstrates that fleets who take the first step in investing in idle reduction technologies find value in these technologies, and continue to purchase them. It saves them money, prevents engine wear, and makes the air we breathe cleaner!

Potential applications for idle reduction technologies span across the entire transportation sector. Unlike many alternative fuel vehicles, which often have distinct applications for certain vehicle fleets, idle reduction can be practiced by any driver of any vehicle. Interested in exploring the benefits that idle reduction strategies and technologies could have on your fleet? Check out the Idling Reduction Savings Calculator to estimate how much you could save.

Reducing unnecessary idling can save both money and petroleum, making it a true win-win strategy for your fleet. Have any questions about idling reduction technologies?  We’re always happy to talk to you!

Western Washington Clean Cities Team