“ Idle reduction is a fundamental practice in fuel and maintenance cost reduction.”
Extra cab or sleeper insulation is a baseline technology that enhances the efficiency of other idle-reduction technologies by decreasing the energy demand of the heating and cooling system. There are a wide range of insulation options for improving fuel economy: the original equipment manufacturer can include additional insulation when the vehicle is built (prior to the installation of the interior trim) or the fleet or owner/operator can add a thicker windshield, bunk or windshield curtains, or solar-reflective interior window coverings.
- Insulated sleeper curtains can provide a 26% reduction in heat loading
- Insulation added to walls, floor, roof, and structural channels leads to a 36% reduction in heat loading
- Window insulation reduces cooling demand by 34%
- Insulation added to walls, floor, roof, and structural channels leads to a 34% reduction in cooling loads
Because it can’t be seen, it is hard to understand how much more insulation is needed
Usage of things like bunk curtains depends on driver involvement
Almost all of the other idle-reduction technologies operate more efficiently with the addition of extra cab/sleeper insulation.
Best Practices Study
As part of a CK Commercial Vehicle Research project, a small sample of maintenance directors and vice presidents of maintenance at heavy-duty fleets were asked about their idling practices. Fleets who responded to the survey said they had the best results with extra cab/sleeper insulation.
Executives from 11 for-hire truckload carriers were personally interviewed to find out about their idle-reduction practices. No single technology was used by all 11 of the fleets, but seven fleets are specifying extra cab/sleeper insulation in their vehicles. Here are comments from some of those fleets:
- I can’t see it and it is hard to know what we currently have.
- We do it with some manufacturers but not all. It depends on the cost.
- We have it in 100% of our trucks. It is not only good for heat and cold, but it also helps reduce outside noise.
Internet Fleet Survey
In conjunction with Michelin, the study team surveyed 200+ members of Michelin’s Fleet Forum. When asked what idle-reduction technology they would purchase, 52.9% said extra cab/sleeper insulation.
Internet Owner-Operator Survey
In conjunction with Kevin Rutherford’s “Let’s Talk” truckers’ satellite radio forum, the study team surveyed owner-operators and small fleets. Of the survey respondents, 66.7% said they would specify additional cab/sleeper insulation if they were to buy a new truck. When asked why they chose extra cab/sleeper insulation for idle reduction, here is what some of them said:
- I have it because I don’t have any power heating or cooling and truck stop electrification is typically not available.
- I have a diesel-fired heater and fan for each season, but the extra insulation keeps the cool in during the hot season and the heat in during the winter.
- It is the most cost-efficient option.
There are already a wide variety of payback calculators for any given type of idle-reduction system. In an effort to meet the industry’s need for more information, we have also developed a high-level payback equation to aid fleets in choosing the right combination of technologies.
Most truck manufacturers offer additional insulation as an option to truck buyers.
Extra cab or sleeper insulation is a good starting point for any idle-reduction solution. Specifying the truck with the highest-level insulation package available from the truck manufacturer will help ensure maximum efficiency for any heating or cooling option the fleet selects. Expect to see continued advancements in cab sealing and insulation including new developments in chemistry and materials engineering along with improvements in the application of insulation and sealing during the vehicle manufacturing process. There may also be advanced technologies developed for window glass and window curtains to provide a better barrier against solar loading.