Granite School District goes back to school with new technology to eliminate school bus idling

Granite School Districts begins this new school year with 40 buses now installed with idle free technology.

Granite is the first school district in Utah to install the Utah-invented and patented Idle Free Heat Technology in its buses. The installation was made possible through grant funding from the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) Grant Program with matching from Granite School District and Idle Free Heat.

As we enter into the cooler fall months, the Idle Free Heat system solves the drivers’ dilemma of having to idle when waiting for school pickups to keep the heat flowing into the vehicle. Idle Free Heat harnesses the heat that is normally wasted away when the vehicle is off and recirculates it through the vehicle’s vents providing heat for up to an hour—all while producing zero emissions and using zero fuel.

The installation of the Idle Free Heat technology in all 40 buses was completed in under four months. The average time to install the technology is six to 12 hours per bus.

“We have been pleased to support this pilot and initiative to work to better the air that we breathe,” said Ben Horsley, director, Granite School District Communication Office.

A single school bus idling for an hour emits 81 grams of nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, PM10, PM2.5 and other pollutants. By eliminating bus idling, Granite School District will eliminate hundreds of pounds of pollution emissions, save money on fuel and extend the life of vehicle engines. Idle Free Heat is also currently working with manufacturers to offer a system that would be available to the general public.

“I invented Idle Free Heat because I knew I could create an affordable, easy to install technology that would actually save people money it would help to eliminate our idling problem,” said Joel Ewell, inventor and owner of Idle Free Heat. “A typical school bus spends one to three hours a day idling just to keep the inside of the bus heated. By eliminating hours of idling, we are removing 100 percent of those vehicle emissions from ever entering our air.”

Installation of the idle free technology was made possible through the UCAIR Grant Program to fund innovative projects that have significant impact on improving air quality. Funding for the grant program comes from private donations. The Idle Free Heat installation was awarded a UCAIR grant in 2017. Ten organizations, including Idle Free Heat, shared in more than $177,000 grant funds awarded to projects dedicated to reducing emissions. Since the UCAIR grants program began five years ago, more than 47 grants have been awarded totaling more than $1.1 million dollars.

“Eliminating hundreds of pounds of pollution emissions from idling has an immediate impact on air quality,” said Thom Carter, UCAIR executive director. “This type of direct reduction in emissions is the purpose of the UCAIR grant program. Providing funding support to take ingenuity and invention to become reality is a significant part of UCAIR’s purpose. Today we’re announcing 40 buses. I hope that in the near future all buses in school districts statewide will install the Idle Free Heat technology to reduce their emissions for the health of us all.”