Idling a car to heat it up on cold winter mornings is a practice that many people swear by, but few have properly tested for efficiency. In reality, idling a car for any amount of time before driving away will cut into your fuel economy much more than driving away immediately after starting the car. In very cold winter temperatures, the engine block heater is often the best option to avoid idling. A block heater has been proven the best choice for getting a hybrid engine ready for winter driving in many other ways.
The Green Factor
The hybrid motor has been the most desired by consumers for cars today, because of its environmental friendliness. However, that trait goes out the window when hybrid owners idle their cars in winter to warm them. In addition to burning a precious fossil fuel, idling also introduces emissions into the atmosphere that are harmful and largely unnecessary. Instead of using your eco-friendly car to add to your carbon footprint, install an engine block heater the night before. Buy one that has a timer set to kick on a few hours before you plan to leave the house. This way, you can turn on the car and get instant heat with no guilt about what you are doing to the environment.
The Cash Factor
Many people are under the impression that idling the car is gas efficient, because the foot is not on the gas pedal the entire time. On the contrary, idling does expend the fuel and lots of it, depending on the amount of time the cars is left to idle. Another common myth is that driving the car cold expends more gas than idle. Actually, the opposite is true. You are therefore wasting precious, and nowadays expensive, fuel in the misguided quest to heat your car in the morning. Hybrid engine block heaters can put those dollars back in your pocket.
For those of you who are still hesitant about an engine block heater for your hybrid car engine, at the very least stop idling. Start your car cold—yes cold—and drive away without hesitation. You will find that the car heats faster than when idled. You will see that the fuel gauge decreases a little slower as well. In fact, modern cars are designed to withstand the cold. Just drive slow until the heat kicks on and you will be fine.
Whatever your choice of getting your heat flowing in the morning, the ultimate goal is to stop idling your hybrid car since it is unnecessary for the engine.