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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Think twice before idling

Car and truck drivers who idle their engines for more than 30 seconds are wasting money, needlessly emitting global warming pollution, and putting the health of others - especially children - at risk.

The Union of Concerned Scientists say that "[f]uel-injection vehicles, which have been the norm since the mid-1980s, can be restarted frequently without engine damage and need no more than 30 seconds to warm up even on winter days."

Steps that you can take to minimize your idling time:
  • "When first starting your car, idle for no more than 30 seconds.

  • "Except when sitting in traffic, turn your engine off if you must wait in your car for more than 30 seconds. You can still operate the radio and windows without the engine running.

  • "When the time comes to buy a new car, consider a hybrid. Hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles switch off the engine and use battery power for accessories when the car is not moving, effectively eliminating idling."
It is a weird feeling to pull up to a stop light in a Toyota Prius and suddenly realize the the car has automatically turned off. When I think about all of the fuel wasted each day as people idle their cars - whether stuck in traffic, heating up the car to drive to work on a cold winter morning, or running into the grocery store for a gallon of milk - I realize how changing just this behavior would be a great way to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

For more information, visit the Union of Concerned Scientists' blog Also, the EPA has a website about Anti-Idling that focuses on school buses, but has good information about the effects of idling.

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