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Controlling the Cost of Idling Equipment

Idling rates refer to any instance in which a piece of equipment is located on a jobsite and the engine is burning fuel, but no ground engaging or other components are actively engaged in meaningful work. Idling rates are calculated by taking the hourly ownership rates and adding hourly fuel costs.

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Now that we have established what idling is, it’s time to discuss how it impacts your bottom line. When a piece of equipment is left idling, ownership and operating costs are being accrued decreasing your bottom line. Though you will not assume all the ownership and operating costs associated with a machine operating at full capacity, a major operating cost that is consumed is fuel. And as we know fuel is a critical factor in contributing to higher operating costs.


SubtypeSize ClassHourly Idling CostHours Idle Per DayAnnual Idling Cost
4-Wd Articulated Wheel Loaders175 – 199 HP$57.902$30,571.20
Tractor-Loader-Backhoes16′ to Under 17′$35.634$37,625.28
Crawler Mounted Hydraulic Excavators28.1 – 33.0 MTons$96.723$76,602.24
Straight Mast Rough Terrain Lift Trucks10,000 – 12,999 Lbs.$34.435$45,447.60
Wheel Tractors75 to 124 HP$16.703$13,226.40
On-Highway Light Duty Trucks100 – 199 HP$9.902$5,227.20


An example was crafted using 6 common pieces of equipment to demonstrate how idling even only a few hours a day can add up over the course of a year. The cost table above uses the average model representing its respective size class to determine all the ownership and operating cost associated with idling. The ownership costs include depreciation, cost of facilities capital (CFC), indirect costs, overhaul labor, and overhaul parts. Fuel is the only operating cost associated with idling. The Annual idling cost associated with all 6 models is almost $209,000.00. Now that we know how much idling can cost, let’s talk about how you can figure out your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly idling cost using simple multiplication.

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there are 176 total possible working hours in a month.  Assuming an 8 hour work day, 176 working hours per month translates to 5.5 working day per week, 22 working days per month.  After an hourly idling rate is determined, multiply that cost by the 5.5 days per week to get a weekly idling cost.  From there, multiply the weekly idling cost by 4 (weeks per month) to calculate the monthly idling cost.  Lastly, take the calculated monthly idling cost and multiply it by 12 to determine annual idling costs.

Now that we know how much Idling can cost you and how to calculate it, let’s talk about how much you can save by reducing the amount that you idle.  In the table, below, idling was reduced by half, resulting in an annual savings of $104,349.96. That’s the equivalent of saving $285.89 dollars a day.  Not only will reducing idling save you money, it will also increase the economic life of your equipment which will give added usage and cost equipment owners less in the long run.


SubtypeSize ClassHourly Idling RateHours Idle per dayAnnual Savings
4-Wd Articulated Wheel Loaders175 – 199 HP$57.901$15,285.60
Tractor-Loader-Backhoes16′ to Under 17′$35.632$18,812.64
Crawler Mounted Hydraulic Excavators28.1 – 33.0 MTons$96.721.5$38,301.12
Straight Mast Rough Terrain Lift Trucks10,000 – 12,999 Lbs.$34.432.5$22,723.80
Wheel Tractors75 to 124 HP$16.701.5$6,613.20
On-Highway Light Duty Trucks100 – 199 HP$9.901$2,613.60


It’s important to understand the impact of idling because what gets measured, gets managed. It’s vital to measure idling costs to get a better understanding of how much idling is costing your company per year. Once the amount of idling is quantified, equipment managers can take steps to cut back on idling costs and increase profitability.