Did you know? Using a block heater in winter is synonymous with comfort, safety, savings and, most of all, environmental friendliness.

An invaluable ally in cold weather
A 2009 CAA-Quebec study conducted jointly with the Agence de l’efficacité énergétique du Québec showed that at an average outdoor temperature of  -10°C,  a vehicle that is plugged in achieved a comfortable cabin temperature 40% faster than an unplugged vehicle.

Because the use of a block heater facilitates cold-weather starting, the engine and drive train also benefit because a pre-warmed motor places less demand on internal components. Obviously, this is also easier on the battery.

Fuel savings
For purposes of the study, five vehicles in different categories (subcompact, compact, utility and hybrid) were subjected to the rigours of winter, first with and then without using a block heater. Conclusion: clear savings in fuel consumption—as much as 15%, and even more in the case of a vehicle being driven for less than 20 kilometres.

Benefits for the environment
Because the use of a block heater facilitates cold-weather starting and accelerates cabin warming, it also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, tests conducted in a laboratory with a dynamometer proved that a plugged-in vehicle emits one-fifteenth the amount of hydrocarbons, one-sixth the quantity of carbon monoxide, and one-quarter as much nitrogen as it would if a block heater were not used.

…at low cost
The study found that for vehicles with a block heater connected for just three hours prior to being started, electricity costs over a 112-day winter were between $10 and $25, depending on the vehicle model. During that same period, the net fuel savings ranged from $20 to more than $40.

It is worth knowing that several automakers automatically equip their vehicles with a block heater on the assembly line. Alternatively, a block heater can be added to almost any automobile at a cost of between $40 and $150, depending on the type of vehicle. Why go without one?

Questions on this or any other automotive question?

If you are a CAA-Quebec member, you can call our Automotive Advisory Services free of charge and as often as you wish. Our specialists are there to help you make informed, objective choices, whatever the subject of your question.

To reach them, call 1 888 471-2424 or e-mail automobile@caaquebec.com now.