Photo credit: found_drama
With winter fast approaching, some seasonal changes present us with temptations, interesting challenges, and perhaps reverting to old habits when we start up the car. Should we do the right thing? Should we do the convenient thing? Should we preserve the planet? Should we save money? Should we do all of these? All are very good questions.
In cold weather, people often idle their automobiles to make the car nice and cozy, or to help remove snow and ice off the windows. It seems like an acceptable thing to do, right? What are the other considerations? Well a few are: wasting fuel, creating unnecessary CO2 emissions, and adding extra costs to your monthly household bills. There’s also the possibility of auto theft and the theft of items from your automobile.
Here in Colorado (and in other states), we have what is referred to as "Puffer" laws, where idling vehicles without a driver present is illegal. Specifically, in Colorado Springs the police are actually enforcing these laws by looking out for idling cars (easy to spot because of the exhaust fumes) that do not have drivers. When these vehicles are found idling they are ticketed. Although one might think that such laws are motivated by greenies wanting to "save the earth" or politicians wanting to bolster their budgets through revenues from tickets, the motivation is actually something very different. It is about preventing auto thefts and items being stolen from these vehicles. It is illegal in Colorado Springs to leave an unattended vehicle running because it becomes a temptation for thieves, and police there are trying to reduce crime.
Police indicate that it only takes a thief two to three minutes to get into a vehicle even if it is locked. Breaking a car window means nothing to the thief. The police in Colorado Springs believe their focus on reducing puffers is being successful with vehicle theft down in numbers by as much as 20%.
In Canada, I learned that one of the most powerful arguments in favor of reduced idling is an economic one. According to Natural Resources Canada, for the average vehicle with a 3-litre engine, every 10 minutes of idling means 300 millilitres (over 1 cup) in wasted fuel – and one half of a litre (over 2 cups) if your vehicle has a 5-litre engine. Unnecessary idling wastes fuel and wasted fuel is wasted money, no matter what country you’re driving in.
There are many reasons why fuel conservation is a good thing. So cut your idle time. By doing so, you will save money, produce less CO2 and probably most importantly, have your car to drive when you return to it.