A greener way on a cold winter day

January 21, 2014

An efficiency Dream Team: block heaters and programmable timers

The depth of winter is upon us, and Baby it’s cold outside!  If your vehicle doesn’t have a block heater, perhaps it’s worth considering.  Block heaters:

  1. Improve fuel economy because your engine is semi-warm when you start it, and therefore runs more efficiently
  2. Reduce emissions because a semi-warm engine will burn fuel more cleanly and produce less toxic emissions like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrous oxides
  3. Extend engine life because semi-warmed oil circulates better and lubricates an engine’s moving parts sooner than thick, cold oil
  4. Enable an engine to warm up quickly – meaning speedier defrosting and a warmer interior

Block heaters are standard equipment on some vehicles, or can usually be installed for a cost of $100-150.

Block heaters do use electricity – typically 400-450 watts, or as much as 30 compact fluorescent light bulbs.  If you plug in your car for 14 hours a night, that will cost $17-19 per month.  But since two hours are long enough for a block heater to warm most engines, one of the best investments you can make is an outdoor programmable timer that will turn your block heater on automatically while you’re still sleeping.  Investment?  About $25.  Savings? Over 80%.  Payback?  About 2 months.

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