Donegal County Council, Ireland, is promoting cleaner air

Complying with ISO 50001 energy management system, Donegal County Council is committed to achieving energy performance improvements of 33%

In its energy policy, as adopted in September 2015 to comply with ISO 50001 accredited energy management system, Donegal County Council (Ireland) has recently launched a new campaign to help achieve energy performance improvements of 33% by 2020.

“This campaign is about raising awareness among our drivers about the harmful effects that idling can cause and we are asking our drivers to try and avoid idling their vehicles not only because of the amount of energy consumed but also because of the potentially harmful effects” says Director of Service, John McLaughlin.

What is idling?

Idling happens when a vehicle’s engine is running while the vehicle is not in motion. Drivers are sometimes forced to idle in traffic but in most situations, idling is not necessary. Idling is a habit that drivers can break, especially when they realise how harmful it can be to the environment.

How is idling harmful?

Idling increases the amount of vehicle exhaust in the air. This exhaust contains many pollutants that are linked to asthma and other lung diseases, allergies, heart disease, increased risk of infections and cancer and other health problems.

An operating vehicle emits a range of gases from its tailpipe into the atmosphere, one of which is carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

Ways to avoid unnecessary idling

  • Turn off your engine if you are waiting for longer than 10 seconds (except in traffic). Contrary to popular belief restarting your car does not burn more fuel than leaving it idling. In fact, idling for just 10 seconds wastes more fuel than restarting the engine.
  • Warm up your engine by driving your car, not by idling. The best way to warm the engine is by easing into your drive and avoiding excessive engine revving. After just a few seconds your vehicle is safe to drive. The vehicles engine warms twice as quickly when driven.
  • Warm up the inside of your vehicle by driving not by idling. Sitting in an idling car means you are breathing in more of the dirty exhaust that leaks into the car cabin. Any warmth you may get from a car heater is not worth the damage to your health.
  • Idling is harder on the engine than restarting. Frequent restarting causes only about €10 worth of wear-and-tear per year, whereas idling leaves fuel residues that damage engine components and cause higher maintenance costs over time.
  • Two minutes of idling uses the same amount of fuel as 1.6km of driving, so the message is simple – engine idling wastes fuel and gets you nowhere.

An information leaflet and poster with a simple ‘Turn it Off’ message has been developed as part of this campaign, and targeted toolbox talks with Council staff in each depot around the county are key features of this awareness raising initiative.

Read more on the SECURE project where partners ERNACT and DCC are working together with five other regions, part-funded by the Northern Periphery and Artic Programme 2014-2020, to foster energy-secure communities through the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.