(NC) — Winter driving will soon be upon us and that means navigating Canadian roads in all kinds of conditions. By understanding the toll that winter driving takes on our roads, vehicles, bank accounts and the environment, we can all contribute to safe, responsible, fuel-efficient winter driving.
For starters, it simply costs more to drive in winter because our vehicles use more fuel. Factors such as increased aerodynamic resistance, difficult and constantly changing road conditions, gas with less energy content compared to summer gas and the constant drain on electricity coming from the engine to operate systems such as heating, defrosting, head lights, interior lights, heated seats and mirrors and windshield washer pumps are all factors.
The way to get around the extra expense is to keep fuel efficiency top of mind at all times.
Don't idle to warm up. A vehicle left idling for 10 minutes burns about a quarter to half a litre of fuel, resulting in emissions of about 600 to 1,200 grams of CO2 depending on the vehicle and exact conditions. Idling for more than 30 seconds has no benefit for the vehicle and driving for a few minutes is the most efficient way to warm the engine and the cabin.
Monitor your tire pressure.Tire pressure fluctuates with temperature. Pressure should be checked at least once a month and more often during seasonal changes to ensure a proper level of inflation. Tires under-inflated by just 56 kPa (eight pounds per square inch) can reduce the life of the tires by more than 10,000 km and increase fuel consumption by up to four percent.
Avoid electrical battery blankets and space heaters.Battery blankets and electrical space heaters consume household electricity, causing increased CO2 emissions from electricity generation. Avoid battery blankets unless it's extremely cold. Instead of an electrical space heater, use your vehicle's built-in temperature control system as it produces no additional emissions and is an excellent use for the otherwise wasted engine heat.
Use a block heater.Block heaters heat the coolant in your engine, which allows your engine to warm-up faster, leading to less fuel combustion and fewer harmful emissions. It's best to use a timer set to turn on two hours prior to starting the engine.
According to the experts at Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency, Canadians can reduce the impact of winter on their fuel consumption considerably by following these tips. There are more winter driving tips at www.vehicles.nrcan.gc.ca.