Keeping your cool

By Robert Lake
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Summer months mean rising temperatures, tempers and fuel prices – not to mention the rising numbers of idling, emission and noise ordinances. How do you plan to keep your cool under these hot conditions?

One solution is to take a look at auxiliary power units, which reduce idling fuel costs by more than 85 percent. The flip side of skyrocketing fuel prices is that technologies like APUs are now cost effective ways to save on fuel and stay comfortable in the summer heat. In fact, the return on investment is fast enough to make them not only affordable but in many cases, a good business decision. Some fleets offer financing plans, but buying an APU is a good decision even without financing.

Ignacio Aguerrvere, director of marketing and product development with Carrier Transicold, in Athens, Ga., says their ComfortPro APU’s sales reflect the demand for quiet, efficient ways to heat and cool a cab and provide cost effective power for appliances and electronics. Aguerrvere says an investment in an APU can pay off with higher resale value of the tractor. “You can get a better trade when the engine has substantially less engine miles than road miles. ComfortPro improves the life of the engine, is quieter and better for the environment.”

The benefits increase as fuel prices increase, and the dollars saved may surprise you. Doug Lenz, director of transport product management for Thermo King, says truckers who buy their APU TriPac can save almost $400 per month and can expect to pay off the unit in 14-18 months. Lenz calculates the savings based on an average of eight hours per day idling, 20 days per month at $3 per gallon of diesel, which works out to $480 per month. TriPac uses less than 2/10 of a gallon per mile to run the unit vs. an idling tractor, which uses 1/10 of gallon per mile.

“We are very upbeat about the future market for APUs,” Lenz says. And neither fuel prices nor environmental regulations show any signs of a down turn. “Installing an APU is a smart business decision for a fleet or an owner-operator.”

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Lenz says the driver shortage plays into the mix as well. “As the demand for professional drivers continues to increase, more companies are jumping on the bandwagon to offer the comfort and energy saving APUs as retention and recruitment incentives,” he says. “Owner-operators are buying them to offset fuel prices, and municipalities are gearing up to ban idling altogether.”

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