Ahles had an outlet installed behind the cab so he can plug in his block heater on cold nights. His APU provides up to 6,000 watts of power. With diesel fuel prices climbing to $4 per gallon, there's now a loan program that can help Minnesota long-haul truckers save money, stay cool this summer, and reduce pollution on overnight rest stops.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency offers low, 4% loans to owner-operated, long-haul truckers and small trucking companies to purchase idle-reduction devices. These auxiliary power units, or APUs, are either small, 15-horsepower diesel engines or battery pack systems that can run air conditioning, heaters, and electricity to power laptops while the truck’s main engine is shut off.
“Best decision I ever made,” said Paul Ahles, long-haul truck owner-operator. “I would absolutely recommend getting an APU. The MPCA has been great to work with.” Ahles has used his new APU on an older truck for nine months and estimates he’s saving $500 per month in fuel idling costs even after deducting a loan payment and fuel and maintenance costs. Ahles averages about 266 hours of idling per month. Ahles estimates that he'll recoup his purchase costs for the unit after only about a year's use.
Typically, truckers keep their trucks running to power air conditioning or heating to help them get a better night’s sleep. APUs provide lower-cost temperature control. Long-haul trucks use about one gallon of fuel per hour while idling. But a diesel APU uses only one-fifth as much. A 10-hour overnight rest can cost a trucker $40 in diesel fuel at $4 per gallon, compared to just $8 when operating a diesel APU.
For those who fear an APU couldn't take the heat, Ahles recounted how he was sleeping over in Texas one night with the temperature well above 100 degrees. He accidentally set the thermostat too low and awoke shivering to a 58-degree cab temperature.
“Even if the truck driver idles just 150 hours per month that’s $600 in fuel,” said Mike Nelson, who runs the loan program for the MPCA. “A trucker would save more than $200 per month even with the loan payment, routine maintenance, and fuel. And reducing truck engine idling will also extend the life of their truck engine.”
Request an application
Small trucking companies and owner-operated fleets are encouraged to request APU loan applications from the MPCA. Details are available on the MPCA website.