Evan Matzen, Manager, Sustainability

I spend a lot of my time as Sustainability Manager teaching our customers about cost-effective ways to make their properties better for the environment. Our department is also responsible for finding ways to reduce HD Supply’s own environmental impact. In our past posts we talked about how we’ve been very successful with lighting retrofits at our distribution centers, making our call center in New Braunfels, Texas, efficient enough to be ENERGY STAR®-certified, rewarding employee carpooling, and other activities to reduce our carbon footprint.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
Today, I’d like to talk about proper vehicle tire inflation. Inflating vehicle tires might seem like a no-brainer, but according to the California Air Resources Board (ARB), only 19% of consumers properly check and inflate their tires. The U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that more than 25% of vehicles on the road in the United States have one or more tires underinflated by 8 pounds per square inch. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that you can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.

That doesn’t sound like a lot, but consider that our fleet of delivery trucks logged over 16 million miles in 2010. Say our fleet averages 10 miles per gallon—that means that we used 1.6 million gallons of fuel to drive those miles. What if all of those trucks had underinflated tires in 2010? That would mean that, if we had maintained proper tire inflation, we would have averaged 10.33 miles per gallon, and would have only consumed 1.55 million gallons of fuel. That is a savings of 51,113 gallons! At $4 a gallon, that’s over $200,000 that could be saved by inflating tires properly.

Fortunately for us, we have a system in place to make sure our trucks have properly inflated tires. We recently rolled out new digital systems to help our drivers more efficiently design their routes and monitor vehicle maintenance and efficiency. I look forward to seeing improved fuel economy and decreased fuel consumption per delivery with these new systems.

Let’s think of this in the context of the millions of drivers on the roads every day in America. A 2007 U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) study estimated that there are 254.4 million registered passenger vehicles in the United States. The DOT also estimates that the average motor vehicle, including light trucks, in the U.S. has a fuel economy rating of 17.1 miles per gallon. If each of those vehicles travels 12,000 miles annually, then, as a society, we consume 178 BILLION gallons of fuel each year. If 25% of those vehicles are running with underinflated tires, we would be wasting almost 1.5 billion gallons of fuel, or $6 billion, not to mention increasing CO2 emissions by more than 14 million metric tons annually.

So what is happening to encourage proper tire inflation? All model year 2008 and newer vehicles are required to have tire pressure monitoring systems installed to alert the driver if tire pressure drops. In addition, some states, like California, are requiring all auto repair facilities to check the tire pressure of every vehicle they service. California estimates that this law will:

  • Eliminate 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduce the state’s fuel consumption by 75 million gallons
  • Extend the average tire’s useful life by 4,700 miles

 

You can read about this program on the ARB website.

So what does this all mean? Proper tire inflation can help you save money by improving fuel efficiency and increasing tire life. Proper tire inflation can also help you reduce pollution and improve the safety of your vehicle. (Here’s a great fact sheet about tire inflation if you want to read more.) If you’re interested, you can even sign up to get a monthly e-mail reminder to check your tire pressure.

What can I do?

It is recommended that you keep an eye on your car monitoring system and check your tire pressure once a month. Most gas stations provide some form of tire inflation station, and some even offer it for free. All gas stations in California are now required to provide free compressed air when you purchase gas.

If you own or manage a property, have you looked into providing tire inflation stations for your residents or guests? Do you think this would add value or attract a new audience?

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