Light-Duty Vehicle Idle Reduction Strategies
Passenger vehicle and light-duty fleet drivers have become accustomed to idling vehicles for a number of reasons. Many drivers do not make the connection between idle time, increased emissions, and wasted fuel. Changing driver behavior and using idle-reduction technologies can help save fuel, reduce emissions, and save money.
Modify Driver Behavior
For passenger cars, the primary idle-reduction strategy is to turn the vehicle off when parked or stopped for more than a few seconds (except in traffic). Drivers can also:
- Avoid using a remote vehicle starter, which encourages unnecessary idling.
- Avoid using drive-throughs. Walk inside instead.
- Obey signs indicating no-idle zones at schools and other locations.
- Consider the purchase of an electric drive vehicle or one with stop/start technology, which limits idling at traffic stops and while waiting in queue.
Adopt Idle Reduction Technologies
Light-duty vehicles include passenger cars, and fleet vehicles, such as livery vehicles and taxis. For passenger cars that must stand for long periods, such as cabs, limousines, and police cars, auxiliary power systems and air heaters are good alternatives to idling.
Auxiliary Power Systems
Auxiliary power systems provide heating, cooling, and electronic device power without running the vehicle's engine. These systems are useful for police vehicles, which require power for comfort, communications, emergency lighting, and HVAC while stopped. Such systems, which can be powered by lead-acid or lithium-ion batteries, are charged by the vehicle’s engine when it is being driven.
Drivers more concerned with passenger compartment warmth—such as taxi and limousine drivers—might prefer air heaters. Although they operate on engine fuel, air heaters are separate, self-contained units that blow hot air directly into the vehicle interior. Air heaters also use very little fuel.
Automatic Power Management Systems
Power management systems allow the driver to turn off the vehicle engine and use battery power to run a vehicle's HVAC and other accessories without worrying about battery depletion. The systems monitor battery power levels while the engine is off and accessories powered by electricity are on. When battery state-of-charge falls below a preset level, the power management system restarts the engine and keeps it running until battery power returns to a predetermined level.
Waste-Heat Recovery Systems
Another option for keeping a vehicle warm is an energy recovery system, which uses the vehicle's heat-transfer system. A very small electric pump is connected to the water line, which keeps the vehicle's cooling system and heater operating after the engine is turned off by using engine heat that would otherwise dissipate. Energy recovery systems keep the passenger compartment warm.