Fuel Consumption


I help operate one of Oregon's largest recycling companies; here we do our best to give a second life to as much debris/waste as we possibly can. Our recycling percentage rates are above all of our competitors, and in my opinion, we are providing a great service both environmentally and for the residence and businesses of the greater Portland are. However, sometimes it feels a bit counter productive with the large amount of fuel which we consume from our grinders, heavy equipment (track-hoes, skid-steers, and front-end loaders), our fleet of Semi-trucks, and my company vehicle; a large Ford F-250 which gets about 13-15 mpg (miles per gallon). In the recycling industry, especially for someone in my position, a large truck with a lot of 'hauling' power is a necessity; frequently I need to deliver parts to job sites, haul small equipment, etc., something that could not be done with a smaller vehicle. Even though I drive a 'gas-guzzler' there are a lot of minor things I have discovered to improve mileage and fuel consumption; my mileage may be poor, but I do not need to make it worse.

Some simple things one can do to improve gas mileage are things which can easily be overlooked such as keeping the tires properly inflated. Since becoming more aware of my fuel consumption, I have made it a habit to check my tires every time I fuel my truck. Not only will properly inflated tires improve on fuel mileage, but the tires will not wear down nearly as fast. Another easy thing to help increase mileage is to avoid storing heavy items in the vehicle; the more weight put onto a vehicle the worse the mileage will be. I try to never use my vehicle as storage for tools, sporting goods, etc.

Two of the biggest ways to save on fuel consumption is to drive less aggressively and to avoid excessive idling. These are for me the hardest habits to break; I have a lead foot and I like to drive fast and when I begin accelerating from a stop, I would generally start with some 'gusto' . Accelerating and breaking rapidly wastes fuel, and significantly reduces mpg. Driving at high speeds also consumes more gas than driving the speed limit; though not all the cars are the same; generally, mileage begins to decrease when speeds climb above 60mph; and not only can driving the speed limit increase mileage, but it is much safer as well (for everyone). I am also guilty of excessive idling which has been a habit which seems impossible for me to break; especially when the weather is very hot or very cold. In extreme temperatures I will start my truck sometime up to 30 minutes prior to either warm up the cab or to cool it down with the air conditioning (the A/C uses even more fuel). When a vehicle is idling it is getting zero mph; and is using a significant amount of fuel (and even more if the A/C is running).

These few tricks to improve mileage are simple, but it is difficult for some to do because a behavior change is needed to make such improvements. Like speeding for me, half the time I do not even realize I am exceeding the posted limit. Changing how I drive and how I care for my vehicle has been something which I have to be constantly aware of; otherwise, I will go back to my 'old' ways without even noticing.

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