Trucking Companies Have to Worry About More than Just Wasting Diesel
By Bob Ward
Anyone who cares about energy consumption has wondered at the vast amounts of fuel consumed by the huge semi trucks that haul goods and materials on our highways and interstates. But these diesel-powered behemoths consume far more than just gasoline.
During winter, when diesel engines must be warmed before they’ll start, trucking companies spend huge money to heat their engines, using heating elements much like those inside your kitchen stove. Ed Elder, who runs Elder Trucking in Rifle, Colo., was spending about $2,000 per month in electricity to run his engine block heaters every day in the winter. Average daily temperatures in Rifle, roughly a mile above sea level, hover between 20 and 30 degrees in the cold months.
But, having installed a timing system to automatically turn the heaters on and off for 12 hours per day instead of 24, Elder hopes to cut his wintertime power bills in half.
“They’ll start at midnight and shut off at noon,” Elder said. “I’m hoping to get those bills down to three digits.”
If the timers perform as expected, Elder will pay off the cost of installing them in less than a year — especially because of the rebates and incentives provided by his electric utility and the local energy office.
“This is the kind of thing that every truck company should consider — bus agencies, school buses, everything,” said Erica Sparhawk of Clean Energy Economy for the Region, a nonprofit that provides energy services for Garfield County. “The paybacks are good and the rebates are an additional incentive.”
You’d never mistake the camouflage-clad Elder for a tree-hugger, but he’s caught the energy-efficiency bug. If his electricity savings pan out as expected, he may use the money to place solar panels on his roof.
- Bob Ward is the former editor of the Aspen Times.