7 Startling Myths About Warming Your Car Up In Winter

Situation: It’s February 2nd of another brutal Canadian winter, and the temperature hasn’t risen above –10 Celsius in two weeks. 6:00AM finds you shivering in the driver’s seat of your car, which has sat on the driveway all night. As you turn the ignition, the car roars to life.


To avoid damaging the engine, you should let the car warm up for: a) 2 minutes, b) 5 minutes, or c) 10 minutes.


It’s a trick question—none of the above. Idling your car in cold weather is—what’s the phrase?—totally unnecessary. Don’t take our word for it, though. Here’s  master mechanic Rob Maier: “Because of the efficiency of modern fuel injection, which eliminated carburetors and chokes, you don’t really need to idle your car. My truck has 250,000 kilometers on it, and I just throw it into gear and go.”


Here are 7 myths about idling your car in cold weather (with a handy assortment of delightfully toasty truths):

  1. The driver’s got to warm up before he can hit the road. Hmmm, getting warm by sitting still? You know what warms up a car even faster than idling? Driving. If you’re concerned about physical comfort—and who isn’t?—get moving. Driving is a much faster way to get the heat circulating in the car, return feeling to your fingers and toes.
  2. A couple of minutes of idling doesn’t cost much. Actually, idling for longer than 10 seconds is putting the hurt on both you and the environment. After 10 seconds, you waste more money running the engine than restarting it. Word to the wise: If you idle your car five minutes a day for a year, you’ll waste 75 litres of gasoline—which produces 200 kilograms of carbon dioxide AND costs you at least $90.
  3. Idling is gentle on the engine in cold weather. Sorry, wrong again. According to the Anti-Idling Primer, idling forces an engine “to operate in a very inefficient and gasoline-rich mode that, over time, can degrade the engine’s performance and reduce mileage.”
  4. Idling in the garage is safe. You’ve seen House of Cards, right? Idling a car in a garage is a terrible idea, even with the door open. It’s dangerous and exposes the driver to carbon monoxide and other noxious gases. And if the garage is attached, those fumes can also enter the house.line-idling
  5. Remote starters are better than block heaters. Take it from Lori Strothard, an expert from the frosty climes of Waterloo, Ontario: “Remote starters often cause people to warm up their cars for five to 15 minutes, which is unnecessary.” A block heater is designed to heat the engine and can be set to turn on one or two hours before driving. It costs under $30, and does the trick in very cold climates.
  6. “Ah, just leave it running—I’m only dashing in and out.”
    Natural Resources Canada points out that quick errand idling is another way to waste gas and pollute both your town and the planet. “Leaving your engine running is hard on your pocketbook, produces greenhouse gas emissions and is an invitation to car thieves,” the agency says.
  7. Idling isn’t such a threat to public health. Come, come. Exhaust is hazardous to human health, especially children’s. (Studies show that children’s IQ levels are lower when they live near major roads with lots of traffic.) The air pollution from tailpipes is linked to increased rates of cancer, heart and lung disease, asthma and allergies. Idling is the second-hand smoke of the outdoors.


Going Green: Harness the Power of Kids

Green recycle kids

Keeping the earth in great shape is a job for us all, young and old alike. And when it comes to recycling, kids can go green with no problems at all–with just a little guidance. Here are four ways to help your kids be kind to the planet–while having a total blast.

Make it a game: can it be recycled? Reused? Composted?

Make it a game: can it be recycled? Reused? Composted?

Host A Clothing And Toy Swap

Collaborate with other parents to recycle outgrown clothes and toys. Help everyone sort things by size or type (all the games and puzzles over here!) and see what treasures you can dig up. Afterwards, have some boxes and bags set up so you can drop off anything that didn’t find a new home at a worthy charity.

Make A Game of Post-Dinner Chores

Get your cleanup crew in gear with a cleanup sorting game: can it get recycled, composted or reused? Stoke competitive fire by promising a small prize or treat to the first to get everything put away. Track how much garbage you’re generating and see how your household improves over time.

Make Playtime Eco-Friendly

Is that garbage, or a crafting opportunity? Often old cartons and containers can be repurposed through glue, paint and a child’s imagination. One creative child we know transformed an old (and well-rinsed) laundry softener bottle into an Egyptian pharoah’s headdress, so the sky’s the limit here. Need some entry-level advice? Find those unmatched socks and take a look at this sock puppet guide from the masters of Muppetry, Sesame Street.

Families relaxing go green

Think ‘experience’ rather than ‘object’ at gift-giving time.

Think Green In All Things

When you’re planning a birthday party or a family vacation, brainstorm ways to minimize garbage. Consider giving experiences rather than things for birthdays and holidays. Go for bike rides or picnic in the park. Seek out environmentally friendly after school activities.

The best way to motivate your children to recycle is to demonstrate eco-friendly ways of living, and encouraging them to participate in green initiatives.

In general, creativity combined with a sense of fun make an eco-friendly childhood a snap. Before you throw anything away, consider if it could be reused or recycled in any way. By using fun and participatory activities, you can teach your kids how to recycle and tread lightly on this earth.

Tips for reducing your waste footprint


  1. Consider the items carefully before you purchase. Buy quality items that will last, have greater efficiency or can be repaired instead of disposed of. Select items that come with less packaging.
  2. Reuse items whenever possible and consider donating old working electronics to certified community groups.
  3. Remove packaging from products, (such as Styrofoam), and immediately set them aside for recycling or leave at the store for immediate recycling.
  4. Look for items that are third-party certified, such as BC Certified Organic, USDA Organic, Canada Organic, Certified Fair Trade, Transfair, and Energy Star.
  5. Designate an area in your home to collect items for recycling, such as batteries, used compact fluorescent bulbs, and plastic. Make a habit of bringing these items to London Drugs on your next shopping trip if your municipality does not offer curbside recycling.
  6. Use your own shopping bags when possible. If you do use plastic bags, they can also be recycled at London Drugs.
  7. Educate yourself on options. There are wonderful resources on line, and you can start with www.greendeal.ca or @WTGreenDeal READ MORE

Energy Efficiency Begins Here

In London Drugs flyers and advertisements, you’ve probably read “Energy Star rated” used in descriptions, or seen the Energy Star logo beside certain products.

Devices carrying the Energy Star logo, such as computer products and peripherals, kitchen appliances, and other products, generally use 20%–30% less energy than required by federal standards.

Energy Star Beginnings

The Energy Star program was created in the U.S. in the early ’90s, but was quickly adopted in Canada and several other countries. The goal was to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by power plants(1) The program kept expanding, adding products such as computers, printers, heating and cooling systems for homes, office equipment, home appliances and electronics, and even buildings.

London Drugs is an Energy Star program partner.

Different products could have different ratings. For example, Energy Star compliant clothes washers use 50% less energy and 35-50% less water than traditional models, while Energy Star qualified dishwashers achieve energy efficiency levels that are at least 25% higher than the minimum regulated standard in Canada.

London Drugs has a wide selection of Energy Star qualified products.


(1) Wikipedia, Energy Star, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Star