Although I am not one of those efficient morning people who give themselves enough time to read the newspaper and warm up their car for ten minutes. My husband and I have bickered for years over how long to let the car idle when it's really cold outside. He's from California and doesn't have that Midwestern winter blood in his veins. I grew up next door in Indiana and have experienced extremely low temperatures that leave you praying for the car doors to open, let alone for it to start. Rule of thumb growing up was to let the car idle for at least five minutes before even thinking about moving on down the road. My husband scoffs at this. Unless we are frostbitten by the time we reach the driveway, he turns the ignition and gives it only the amount of time it takes for us to settle in until he drives away.
Turns out he's right. Unless you're toting around an infant that needs to enter a temperate car, experts say that the best way to warm an engine is to drive at moderate speeds. When it is below zero, idling for one to three minutes might be necessary, but otherwise our modern engines don't need the wait time
and can go right to work.
When considering what damage car emissions do to the environment, we can all do a lot more to avoid idling and wasting gold ... I mean gas. Most of the time we sit in our cars without turning off the engine is for personal reasons. Estimates vary from 5 to 10 minutes per day that every car sits with the engine running. If each of us cut that time out, not only would we save a pretty penny on gas each year, but we would keep approximately 13 million tons of carbon
out of the air. Here are a few of the biggest opportunities to cut back:
"Running in" to the store: How many times have you seen patrons at the convenience store run in for their morning caffeine fix and leave their car running? Don't be that person. Remember to turn it off.
Pulling over to take a phone call: It's great when people don't chat and drive, but if you're going to sit at the side of the road not moving, don't fill our air with dirty emissions.
Waiting to pick someone up: The next time you pick up your kid at school, see how many parents are polluting unnecessarily. Set the best example and wait without idling.
Railroad crossings: A typical train in the Midwest could be at least a five-minute wait! This is the perfect example of saving gas. If everyone stopped at a crossing was required to turn off their engines, how much CO2 could we save a year?
I compare idling my car to brushing my teeth: how much water have I saved by being conscientious and turning the faucet off and on while brushing? Why wouldn't I want to do the same with gas? We can all help the environment and keep a bit more money in our pockets by cutting down just a little each day.