Reduce Fuel Usage

How you take care of and drive your vessel has a large effect on how much fuel you use. These tips will help you save money and reduce pollution!

Before Your Trip:

1. Perform routine engine maintenance.

  • Always check your engine manual for recommended products.
  • Change fuel filters regularly, they remove unwanted particles, increasing engine efficiency.
  • Fuel additives will clean engine parts and breakdown potentially harmful substances.
  • For other tips, head to Engine Maintenance.

2. Check your propeller (prop).

  • Make sure you have the correct prop for your type of vessel and how you use it.
  • Look for bent blades, dings or eroded edges, as damage to the prop will increase fuel usage.

3. Maintain the bottom of your vessel.

  • Marine growth on your hull increases friction, therefore slowing your boat down and wasting fuel. Regularly clean the bottom of your boat to increase fuel efficiency.
  • Bottom antifouling paint can prevent growth on your hull. For environmentally friendly recommendations, see Bottom Paint.

4. Install a fuel flow meter.

  • Measure fuel consumption at different revolutions per minute (rpm) to find the most efficient speed for your vessel.
  • Use these figures to keep good records so you can monitor vessel performance after changes are made to your boat.

5. Plan ahead.

  • Know exactly where you’re going on your trip, thereby minimizing journey time.
  • Tides and winds are not only relevant to sailboats, but also to power vessels. Boating against the tide or into strong winds requires more engine power than moving with the tide or wind.

6. Decrease extra weight onboard to lower fuel consumption.

  • When filling up your fuel and water tanks, only carry the amount you need for your trip.
  • Empty your holding tank often.
  • Bring and/or store only the items you need onboard.

During Your Trip:

1. Slower speeds on the water will decrease fuel usage.

  • Reducing power by as little as 10% from full throttle will save 20% in fuel costs.

2. Using trim tabs and power trim carefully prevents plowing and reduces drag. This allows the boat to plane at a lower rpm, run more quietly and saves money.

3. Check your wake.

  • A large wake indicates that your boat is trying to climb the water's surface and is using extra power and fuel.
  • To remedy this, either slow down to create a smaller wake, or quickly speed up to plane thereby creating a smaller wake.

4. Look at your exhaust. A well-maintained diesel engine produces exhaust that is virtually invisible. The color of exhaust can indicate problems that reduce engine efficiency and increase fuel consumption:

  • Black exhaust - engine is overloaded, starved for combustion air or has worn injectors.
  • White exhaust - injector or valve timing problem, burnt valves, or bad gaskets allowing coolant into the cylinders.
  • Blue exhaust - oil in the combustion chambers from worn rings or valve guides, or a turbo seal failure.

5. Instead of idling your engine to charge batteries, refrigerators and other electrical items, consider using solar, wind or tidal power, or use dockside power. To learn more, check out the section on Renewable Energy

Green Boating Guide: