Recently, 2nd Green Revolution toured IdleAire’s Denver, Colorado location. Founded in 2000 (back story on their website), the company aimed to answer one question: “How could a driver park, shut off the engine (along with its noise, fumes and vibration) and still stay warm or cool while having access to the comforts of home?” IdleAire now has over 100 locations at truck stops in 34 states. Though a previous guest post by IdleAire employee Noah Spitzer provided a good overview of the product and its benefits, touring an actual facility brought added insight. At the TA Travel Center off of Interstates 70 and 270 in Commerce City, IdleAire employee Jennifer Winter took a few minutes out of her schedule to explain the pricing, operation, and benefits of the IdleAire System. At the truck stop there were around 60 slots with IdleAire units, the majority of which were in use.
A regular retail hour of IdleAire use costs $2.89 and includes:
- Heat and Air Conditioning
- AC/DC power
- Basic internet
- Television access with 20 channels
- Free local and incoming telephone calls
With an annual gold membership fee of $20, truckers can get the gold package, or the fleet rate discount, for $2.45 per hour. At the time of the visit, diesel was selling for $2.789 per gallon. Estimates state that trucks consume a gallon of diesel per hour while idling. If trucks across a company’s fleet were to have the same set up, the savings could be significant in terms of fuel and money. The gold membership amounts to a 17% savings on the hourly rate and also includes price breaks on movies and other upgrades.
All of these features fit within a roughly one and a half foot diameter round module (manufactured by Epic Technologies) that opens up to reveal the control panel and screen (see pictures below). The module fits in the passenger side window by hooking into customizable plastic panels which fit in the window. A yellow tube connects to the back of the module and runs up to a central track and fan unit sitting above each truck that blows hot or cold air into the cab.
During the visit, Mrs. Winter introduced us to a few truckers who were using the system and provided good reviews. They had only recently used IdleAire for the first time and decided it was worth using again. Not only is there a reduction in air pollution, noise (which was quite loud near the trucks who were still idling) was markedly lower in the IdleAire section. While talking to the truckers, it was apparent how hard they work. They are often on the road and away from their families for 3 weeks only to get 3 days off at home before heading back out across the country. Being on the road so much makes the little conveniences that IdleAire provides that much nicer. In addition, the ability to divert one’s mind for a while as well as sleep soundly (truckers are federally mandated to take 10 hours off for every 14 hours on the road) makes the truckers better rested. Since they get paid for every mile they drive, they are anxious to get back out on the road and can do so with more energy and refreshed minds.
IdleAire enhances sustainability in a power hungry industry. It includes facets of all three components of sustainable development: economic, environmental, and social equity. The latter point can be seen in improving conditions for drivers. Combusted diesel fuel not only decreases fuel efficiency but adds to ground level pollution, another direct impact on driver health and wellness. By providing a restful, healthy alternative to the inhalation of exhaust, loud engine noise, and the constant vibration of the truck’s cab that come with idling, they can better achieve their tasks and do so in a safe manner. Additionally, at a roughly 14% savings per gallon equivalent (where one gallon of gas is consumed per hour spent idling), the economic benefit is astounding. On the day we visited, IdleAire was running a $1.99 per hour special, a further reduction of nearly 20% over the gold package.
There will always be a niche for innovative products, especially ones that improve the triple bottom line.
- 2nd Green Revolution