Idle reduction

Idle reduction program

See how clearing the air saved over $6 million.

Idle reduction program

As part of our commitment to sustainable development, we implemented an idle reduction program in late 2008. This program helps us reduce greenhouse gas and other air emissions; save money due to unconsumed fuel and reduced vehicle maintenance; and increase vehicle availability within our fleet.

As part of the program, we installed idle monitors on over 430 Kennecott vehicles. These monitors help save fuel and protect the environment by reporting vehicle engines that have been idling for a designated amount of time.

Why idle reduction?

Idle reduction is beneficial both environmentally and economically, but why did we choose this program specifically? We knew the program would provide measured results that would show exactly what kind of impact we could have on our fuel consumption and emissions. Reducing our PM2.5 airshed emissions, in addition to SO2, NOX and VOC emissions, is of critical importance to us here at Kennecott.

Facts that led to our consideration for the program:

  • Engine wear is greater at prolonged idle than during normal operation
  • Modern cars need little time to warm up
  • Every gallon of gas burned produces 20 pounds of carbon dioxide
  • Manufacturers measure the amount of idling when doing warranty work


Fuel consumption data:

  • Light duty vehicles (gasoline), 1996-2009
    1 idle hour = 2 gallons of fuel and 26 miles traveled
  • Light duty vehicles (gasoline), 2010-2012
    1 idle hour = 1 gallon of fuel and 26 miles traveled
  • Light to medium duty vehicles (diesel)
    1 idle hour = 3 gallons of fuel and 26 miles traveled
  • Heavy duty mobile (diesel)
    1 idle hour = 3.5-4.5 gallons of fuel
  • Heavy haulage trucks (diesel)
    1 idle hour = 6.5-7.5 gallons of fuel

Since the idle reduction program’s inception in late 2008 through February 2012, we successfully saved 2,074,814 gallons of fuel, equaling $6,424,288 in monetary savings. Within that same timeframe, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 21,247 tons.


Q: Isn’t restarting a car hard on its engine?

A: Restarting your engine has little impact on engine components. Normal wear and tear on components due to restarting the engine is estimated to add $10 per year to the cost of car ownership. Reducing idling can help you recover this money many times over throughout the year.1

Q: Doesn’t it waste more gas to turn off a car and restart it?

A: Though it varies depending on the car, for most engines, if you’re idling for longer than thirty seconds, you’re wasting more fuel than if you had turned off your car and restarted.1

Q: Do your employees feel like “Big Brother” is always watching them?

A: Education is the key to implementing an idle reduction program. As our employees learn the facts behind idle reduction, they understand the importance of complying with the program. Additionally, gaining support from all levels, including management, makes this program successful.

Q: Where can I learn more about specific components to install on my vehicle?

A: Visit Utah Clean Cities, Salt Lake City and the U of U Sustainability Office for more information on idle monitor programs, suppliers and vendors.

Who do I talk to for more information on your program?

Contact Richard Kauss at to learn more about our idle reduction program.


Implementing idle reduction

Looking to make idle reduction a key part of your organization? Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you consider implementing your own program.

Cultural change

An idle reduction program requires a cultural change within your workplace. Management, vehicle operators and all others involved should be included in training to help everyone understand the reasons (both financial and environmental) that idle reduction
is beneficial.


The success of any idling program is dependent upon the accountability of the employees. Holding people accountable for their driving behavior will help lower idling hours and make the program sustainable for years to come.

Monitor install

Installing an idle reduction monitor is easier than you might think. Make sure to follow the instructions for your monitor and contact the manufacturer with any questions.


Implementing a successful idle reduction program requires a measurement of your results. Be sure to monitor your vehicle usage both before and after program implementation.

Payment costs and ROI

Before implementing your idle reduction program, check to see if your potential return on investment will cover the payment costs for monitor installation and other program expenditures. ROI will vary depending on the size of your fleet and the current amount of time your fleet vehicles spend idling.