Baby, its cold outside! Winter is here and that often means a freezing cold, iced over vehicle to get into in the morning.
If your daily habit includes starting the ignition and leaving the car idling while you grab the rest of your things inside, you are doing more than just wasting gas. When you leave an idling engine, the hazardous exhaust fumes that are emitted from the tailpile are more than twice that from a moving vehicle. Not only are you polluting the environment, but you can actually harm your car’s engine by leaving it running out in the cold.
In fact, idling your car while waiting to pick up a passenger, or while in traffic, also is harmful:
The costs really add up. A vehicle with an 8-cylinder engine that is left idling for 5 minutes each day for a year will needlessly consume an extra 20 gallons of gasoline, wasting $60-90, and producing an additional 440 pounds of CO2 emissions.
So, how can you warm up your car without wasting energy?
1. Keep ice off the windows in the first place with a piece of cardboard on the windshield. Simply remove it and go on your way.
2. Use your own energy to scrape off the ice, warming yourself up in the process!
3. Instead of idling the engine, use a block heater. Especially effective for cold climates, block heaters warm up the engine, making it easier to start. They can also boost fuel economy up to 10%. Block heaters can be installed at the dealership, by a service center, or even by you – if you are one of those DIY types!
4. Even without a block heater, you can warm up your car in only 30 seconds of idling. Drive for about 5-10 minute before turning on the interior heater. If the inside is too chilly, wear a few extra layers, including gloves and a scarf to ward off the chill at first.
5. Put aside myths regarding better engine health if the car is warmed up. Modern fuel injection engines have oil circulating within 30 seconds of turning the ignition key. In fact, you can actually hurt your engine by keeping it in idle too long or too often. When it operates in a gasoline-rich mode the engine’s performance can be degraded, reducing mileage over time.
If all else fails, how about snow-shoeing to work? Or maybe its time to take a sick day, brew some tea and watch the snow falling outside your window.