Reduce Fuel Usage - Sailors for the Sea

Reduce Fuel Usage

How you maintain and drive your vessel has a large of effect on how much fuel you use – and how much money you can save! 

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How you take care of and drive your vessel has a large effect on how much fuel you use.

Before your trip:

  • Perform routine engine maintenance. Change fuel filters regularly to remove unwanted particles, increasing engine efficiency. Fuel additives will clean engine parts, breaking down potentially harmful substances. For other tips, check out the Engine Maintenance section, and be sure to read your engine manual for specific recommendations.
  • Check your propeller (prop). Choose the correct prop for your boat type. Look for bent blades, dings or eroded edges, and replace, as damage will increase fuel usage.
  • Maintain the bottom of your vessel. Regularly clean your hull as growth increases friction, slowing your boat down. Use antifouling hull paint to help prevent growth. See Bottom Paint for eco-friendly options. 
  • 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 monitor your boat’s performance. 
  • Plan ahead. Tides and winds are relevant to both sail and power boats. Cruising against the tide or into strong winds requires more engine power than moving with them. 
  • Decrease extra weight onboard. Empty your holding tank often. Bring and/or store only the items you need onboard.

During Your Trip:

  • Operate your vessel at a fuel-efficient engine RPM to decrease fuel consumption, reduce emissions and save money. 
  • Use trim tabs and power trim carefully to prevent plowing and reduce drag, allowing the boat to plane at a lower RPM.
  • 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 or quickly speed up to plane to create a smaller wake.

exhaust, diesel engine, smoke

  • Read those smoke signals. The color of your diesel engine’s exhaust can indicate problems that reduce engine efficiency and increase fuel consumption:
    • Black smoke – indicates unburned or partially burned fuel, meaning the engine is overloaded, starved for combustion air or has worn injectors.
    • Blue smoke – forms when crankcase oil is burned in engine’s combustion chambers due to worn rings, valve guides or seals. 
    • White smoke – is a fog of very small fuel droplets due to poor quality of fuel, injector/valve timing problem burnt valves, or bad gaskets allowing coolant into the cylinders. 
  • 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

Did you know?

  • Reducing power by as little as 10% from full throttle will save 20% in fuel costs.
  • If you lower your fuel consumption, you’ll make fewer trips to the fuel dock and save money!