Houseboat Fuel Consumption - gas prices and simple fuel economy tips

by Arthur
(USA)

Houseboat Fuel Economy - gas prices and consumption

Houseboat Fuel Economy - gas prices and consumption

Soon will be buying a houseboat, but fuel consumption and gas prices are scaring me a little. What kind of fuel economy or MPG (miles per gallon) can I expect to get with a 40 foot houseboat with a flat bottom and a 4 cylinder engine?


I get the feeling that because of the world economy and turmoil, that the price of a barrel is likely to sky rocket. The price of fuel at the marinas is often higher, and I don't see them dropping this summer.

I wonder if there are any tips or tricks that I can use to save some money at the gas dock?

Thanks for any help, Arthur.



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Reply - Answer
Well Arthur, you have asked a very good question that will surely get plenty of comments. I will try and give you a quick overview.

To look at boats in a general perspective, the bigger the boat, the more in fuel costs. Yet lets look at it's intend use. If you're planning to do long distance travel, I would suggest a diesel engine setup.

If you plan to use the houseboat around your general area, than a gas engine setup is likely your best bet. Your 4 cylinder 4 stroke inboard setup is very common, so parts and maintenance should be easy.

Now to look at fuel economy "guess-timates" you should likely burn @ 2- 3 gph at hull speed, and running say 2,500-3,000 RPM. The hull speed being @ 5-7 knots and depends on many factors like on waves, current, wind, hull design, weight and bottom cleanliness etc...

Now you do realize that there are many things that affect fuel economy, and some of the basics are a properly running/maintained engine, the right propellor to achieve WOT (wide open throttle), gross boat weight (boat, passengers, contents etc...) and the cleanliness of the boat bottom.

There's plenty of other information on houseboat fuel consumption figures and also houseboat mileage tips and economy charts.


One of the things that do in the spring and fall is to add some of this cleaner to my gas tank and have had amazing results. It gets rid of the rough idle, starts quicker, and runs really smooth. I have also noticed that my gas mileage has increased, but just the fact that my engine runs better makes it all worthwhile.



Adding it to my gas tank also helped tremendously as it did some amazing stuff to my generator since it gets rarely used and tends to sit for longer periods, and we all know waht old gas can do :(

Lastly, surely some of our readers and visitors will share and post comments about their houseboat gas consumption figures and fuel economy tips and experiences.

Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats



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Comments for Houseboat Fuel Consumption - gas prices and simple fuel economy tips

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Keep it slow to go farther
by: Karl

When I used the online free "victoria propeller calculator" to calculate perimeters for re-powering my houseboat, what I found was shocking.

Look at the power required for small gains in speed and all that power is not free, it costs go juice. Even though you may get there sooner, by no means will you save fuel with less run time.

43' Delta Clipper

7 knots (8 mph) 48 Hp
10Knots (11.5 mph 98hp
12knots (14 mph) 220hp
25knots (29 mph) 611hp (a bit optimistic speed)

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Diesel houseboat fuel consumption in GPH and MPH
by: Lenny

We have a 52 foot Sunseeker with twin volvo 4 cylinder diesels, we burn 2 liters per hour at 8-9 knots. We weigh in at 25 tons, and it's a flat bottom aluminum hull.

What I have seen in my experience is that twin engines of moderate size give the best in stability, maneuverability, and economy.

I hope this helps, Lenny

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Fuel Economy - your worst nightmare...
by: Anonymous

I own a 50ft Hatteras Sportfisherman/Convertible. It weighs 54,000 pounds empty. Diesel fuel capacity of 1065 gals running two Detroit Diesels V8-92TI's with a total of 1572 cu.in. displacement/ 650 HP. WOT is 27mph and cruise is 21mph.

Any speed below 1000rpm will give me 1.03 gals per mile, anything above 1250rpm will be between 0.56 to 0.43 gals per mile all the way to WOT.

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Houseboat Fuel Economy - go slow and not fast
by: Russell

Ray, all good points. However, when dealing with a prop shop most will try to talk you into installing maximum performance props.

When it comes to fuel economy, they will try to convince you that will be when the engine is running at maximum RPM's at hull speed on plane. Don't buy into it.

My boat is capable of right at 30 knots. I never use it. The cost will cripple you financially. Weekenders and short time boaters don't care what they spend and want everything fast.

Moving a houseboat that may weigh in like mine at near 40 tons is a mountain to move. Take it slow and do it your way. Slow and steady is cost effective where fast is not cost effective.

I have heard arguments about getting there fast burns less fuel. No, it does not. If you don't believe me, try it. Drive somewhere under full throttle and refule at the far end. Then take the same course back under an idle.

That wake you are throwing costs a lot of fuel to create. It can also cause a lot of trouble in other ways. Remember, you are responsible for damages caused by your wake.

Aside from that, tools are a very important addition on your boat. I carry 4 prop pullers and have even changed props on many other boats and loaned them out on occasion.

I have any power tool you can immagine. I have full sets of mechanics tools, carpenters tools along with plumbing and electrical tools. Fiberglass work needed? Yup, I have everything needed. I do all my own work and many things for others.

Just my thoughts, Russell.

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Houseboat Budget - keep your money out of the fuel tank
by: Ray

Russell has some great input. It's my plan to do exactly that. With your single 4 cylinder engine on a flat bottom boat, you should fare fairly well on fuel if you keep in mind that it is what it is and not a 20' speed boat.

If you keep up just enough speed to have steerage, you will be surprised. You are "home" so why hurry? Have a cold one and relax. Better than golf. Just puttin' around will allow you to see a lot more.

One thing, I would check with a propellor manufacturer, with the info on your boat, tell them what you are looking for and put their recommended size propellor on.

Buy TWO props, always have a spare on board. If you damage yours, you could be out of business for a while plus the expense of a tow.

If you invest in a prop puller, or have one made, you can back into a sandy beach area and change props with the boat in the water. See ya on the water... Ray.

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Simple Houseboat Fuel Consumption Tips
by: Russell

I look at it like this. My boat carries a little over 500 gallons. Come payday I put what I can afford in the tanks. When they get near full we will wander off somewhere until they start to get low.

Then we will stop and drop anchor. We enjoy where we are, dive, snorkel, swim, fish and relax until next payday. Then we will put whatever we can afford in the tanks and wander off somewhere until they start getting low. Sound familiar?

Okay, not many of us are independantly wealthy. Especially with the fuel price situation. I know a lot of people who live and travel like this. Others will find work and feed the boat tanks until they are full and then build a little kitty of a few thousand dollars.

Then they move on until the tanks run low and they find work wherever they are to add to the kitty and fill the tanks. You can not worry about the cost of fuel. It is going up and it will keep going up.

You live aboard your houseboat, right? So you are always home no matter where you are. Relax and enjoy the view.

See you out there somewhere, Russ

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