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5 Fuel Efficiency Tips to Reduce Fleet Emissions and Save Money

| November 30, 2022

PDI Technologies shares five easy ways to improve the fuel efficiency of your fleet

Between shuttles, buses, commercial trucks, and more, transportation has become the leading source of Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States of America, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Every time an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle is on the road, it is releasing harmful gasses into the atmosphere as it travels to its final destination. 

This is an unfortunate side effect, but it’s one we’re able to actively address. 

Although we simply can’t stop driving, there are several small ways to lessen the carbon footprint of company vehicles by reducing emissions. What’s even better, all of these reduction strategies can save you money as well. 

Below are five easy ways to improve the fuel efficiency of your fleet. As an additional resource, download PDI Technologies’ “Fuel Efficiency Guide” that summarizes the information below into a one page document that can be shared with your team.

1. Reduce idle time 

An idling heavy-duty truck can burn around 0.8 gallons of fuel each hour. This can add up to thousands of gallons a year for many trucks, a significant amount of money (and emissions) going up in smoke, pun intended. For light duty vehicles, idling will consume around 0.25 to 0.5 gallons per hour.  At a national level, this equates to around 1.1 billion gallons of fuel used every year. 

Though it has been argued that idling is more energy efficient than turning a vehicle on and off, that’s only true if you’re sitting for 10 seconds or less. Since most idle moments, particularly when truckers are at rest stops, are much longer, turning your vehicle off is a much better option than idling.

By eliminating, or at least cutting back on idle time, fleets can save more than $6,000 per vehicle annually according to the EPA.

2. Check tire pressure

While you may be conscientious of the tire pressure of your vehicles when it’s cold outside, it’s actually recommended that you check tire pressure once a month. This is because under-inflated tires can lead to multiple issues with your vehicles. 

Not only will it waste gas and lead to poor gas mileage, but it’s also not safe. Keeping tires properly inflated can help vehicles take drivers farther and make their tires last longer, both money-saving results courtesy of a regular tire pressure check.

The optimal tire pressure will vary by vehicle and tire, but you can confirm the appropriate range using the manufacturers guidelines, which can often be found posted to the inside of the driver’s door.

Expect to add a little air on a regular basis since most tires lose around 2 PSI each month. When the weather is cooler, a temperature change of 10 degrees can increase this loss further.

3. Use cruise control

When appropriate, using cruise control can actually help your vehicles perform more efficiently. This is because cruise control allows you to regulate two driving behaviors that waste fuel — aggressive driving and speeding. Both behaviors can lead to slamming on your brakes, another fuel waster. 

However, cruise control is not the solution for all driving. Sometimes you just have to make a conscientious choice to drive less aggressively. Here are some examples of when to use cruise control:

  • On the highway
  • On long road trips, when you start to feel muscle fatigue; you still have to pay attention and keep your eyes on the road, but it can give your leg muscles a break
  • When there’s a long stretch of highway with little-to-no traffic
  • When a section of highway has a constant speed for a significant distance

Using cruise control in these instances is ideal since you won’t have to keep adjusting the settings, nor will you have to tap the brakes constantly to slip back to fully manual driving.

On the flip side, don’t use cruise control if there’s any bad weather, particularly if the roads are wet. You should also avoid it if you’re feeling at all sleepy, or if you’re driving on city or neighborhood streets. A route with a lot of starts and stops is best managed without cruise control.

4. Schedule routine maintenance

Aside from your regular oil change, a vehicle has a few other specific areas that should get checked regularly. When any of them are out of whack, your vehicles operate less efficiently, wasting gas and potentially costing you more money. If an issue isn’t diagnosed soon enough, you may end up paying to replace a whole part instead of just one piece.

Make sure you regularly have your transmission, engine, and brakes checked. You’ll want to mitigate issues including bad spark plugs and brake pads that are too worn down. When it comes to your oil change, make sure that the right motor oil is going into your vehicle. You can even try using an energy conserving oil that can reduce engine friction. And, don’t forget to change the fuel filters – this is often overlooked when it comes to diesel trucks. 

An easy way to remember to perform regular maintenance on your vehicles is to align this with annual emissions checks. Yes, you’ll need to have your oil changed more often, but this gives you a regular reminder that the rest of your vehicle needs a check-up. Since the emissions test ensures your vehicle is running efficiently on a broad scale, it’s an easy transition to check out all of the vehicle’s parts for the same purpose.

According to Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc., engine repairs could lead to a “net expected value” improvement of 4.1% better fuel economy.

5. Avoid excess weight

When loading cargo or supplies into vehicles, weight should be top of mind. How much cargo you put into your vehicle can impact the vehicle’s performance. Trimming as little as 20 pounds of extra weight can change fuel efficiency.

No, we’re not suggesting that you ship empty trailers – But by choosing lighter-weight tractor and trailer components you can reduce truck weight by thousands of pounds. According to SmartWay, reducing 3,000 pounds from a heavy truck can save between 200 – 500 gallons of fuel annually. 

US trucks move 10+ billion tons of freight in a year alone. According to Natural Resources Canada, a truck that reduces its weight by 110 pounds would save $490 in fuel across 124,274 miles. 

Small changes make big differences

Taking any or all of these suggested steps allows your vehicles to function at their best and use gas as efficiently as possible. This not only helps protect our environment from an excess of harmful emissions but also helps you save money. 

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