STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Turn Off Your Engine When Idling for Long Periods

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
When you’re idling, you’re getting zero miles per gallon. The larger your engine, the more you’ll waste by idling. Additionally, idling cars are a major contributor to urban air pollution. Think of the last time you were walking down the street and got a mouthful of toxic air from a car or delivery truck idling at the curb. Motor vehicle emissions account for approximately 77 percent of the carbon monoxide (CO), more than 35.6 percent of the volatile organic compounds (including hydrocarbons) and forty five percent of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) in our nation's air. The American Lung Association has cited vehicle exhaust as a prime contributor to respiratory problems. Make a commitment not to idle for more than 10 seconds and you’ll improve your community’s health, save gas, save money, and help reduce global warming gases

Tips & Tricks
Turn the key if you’ll be sitting longer than 10 seconds. Whenever you’re waiting in the car or sitting in a line-up, it’s better to kill the engine than keep it running. If you’re at a stoplight or in stop-and-go traffic, use your judgment.

Ask your neighbors not to idle. Keep an eye out for idlers around town; if you notice someone sitting for a long period with the engine on, consider asking them if they wouldn’t mind shutting off for the sake of the public air.

Web & Print Resources
Fuel-efficient driving tips:
www.fueleconomy.gov
www.edmunds.com
www.shell.com
www.consumerenergycenter.org

Pollutants from cars:
www.epa.gov

Fun Facts

Every 40 minutes of idling costs you at least one tenth of a gallon of wasted fuel. Keep in mind that every gallon of gasoline produces 19 pounds of carbon dioxide.