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Lower Your Carbon Footprint by Not Warming Up Your Car this Winter

A recent survey of drivers found that 2,150 tons of CO2 are generated by UK motorists warming up their cars in the morning, creating the equivalent CO2 emissions of three 747 flights from London to New York each day.[social_buttons]

“Everyone is now familiar with simple energy saving tips like switching off a tap, turning off lights and recycling but it seems many people’s green intentions go out the window when they are faced with a cold start in the morning. Our research has shown that an estimated 2,150 tonnes of CO2 and 21,450MW  of electricity will be wasted each cold morning across the UK.” – Lucy Bailey, ibuyeco spokesperson

The results of the survey of drivers by ibuyeco show that 46% of UK drivers are in the habit of warming up their vehicles for over 5 minutes on cold winter mornings, releasing an estimated 2,150 tons of CO2 each day.

ibuyeco offers these energy and fuel saving tips:

  • Covering your vehicle’s windshield the night before a cold snap reduces the need for heavy scraping and a hot water treatment in the morning
  • Add an extra layer of clothing or wear your winter coat for the initial early morning drive.  This will ensure you stay cozy and reduce your need to ‘warm up’ the car.
  • Clean out the garage. If you have a place to store your vehicle overnight, then use the space and keep your car under cover during cold winter nights

ibuyeco is a 100% carbon-neutral insurance company, offering competitively priced insurance which includes the offset of 100% of a vehicle’s annual CO2 emissions.

ibuyeco calculates a vehicle’s CO2 emissions based on engine size, fuel type and the annual mileage details provided by the customer. ibuyeco then purchases carbon credits from carbon reduction projects to offset the CO2 emissions produced by driving the insured car.  Drivers are charged per ton of CO2 and to date ibuyeco has offset over 200,000 tons of CO2 on behalf of its policy holders.

For more info, surf on over to ibuyeco: 100% Carbon Neutral Car Insurance

(Estimates based on: Idling for over of 5 minutes = generates 141.6g CO2. Multiplied by over 15 million drivers = 2,150 tons of CO2 produced. Average return flight from London Heathrow to New York generates 1.3 ton of CO2  per passenger. A Boeing 747 carrying around 500 people generates 650 tons of CO2 per return flight. 650 ton x 3 flights = 1,950 tonnes of CO2.)

Image: Simone Ramella at Flickr under Creative Commons


  1. Jimmy James says:

    Fantastic advice – for anyone living where -5 to -10 is considered cold. Pouring hot water on a windshield when the temperature is -30 is a sure way to shatter the glass. And no matter how much you bundle up, it’s not enough when you’re sitting on a frozen car seat.

    • It doesn’t say pour hot water on the window it says cover the windshield if you are going to say something please get your facts correct and for everyone else its not saying go out start your car and go it is saying go out let it idle for like 60 sec. and then let it warm up on the go because, it helps the environment and if we don’t help the environment soon the ozone layer is going to be depleated and we arn’t going to have pertection from the sun’s radiation of its rays and so we will end up dying alot faster think about your kids or if you don’t have any think about your friend’s kids or think about the future when I die I want to know that my children and grandchildren are safe I am only 14 and I don’t know that much, but god if you wouldn’t be so selfish we wouldn’t have the problem of globle warming or all the other problems we face today.

  2. This tip is wrong. In the rush to give “green tips” people should not get carried away and suggest things that at first seem like a good idea but actually make things worse. Warming up your car in below-freezing weather is vital to getting the oil circulating throughout the engine to prevent excessive mechanical wear AND to allow maximum efficiency in the burning of the fuel. While it is not necessary to “over-warm” your car, letting it idle for at least 2 or 3 minutes is far better for the environment and your car than just firing it up and immediately driving off in cold weather:

    1) If you drive off at street speeds before the engine and oil has a chance to warm up, the engine will not burn the gas as efficiently for the first several minutes of driving, putting out MORE emission than if you had warmed the engine up at idle for a couple of minutes (which uses very little gas and puts out comparatively less emissions).

    2) If you regularly drive off without warming up the engine for a few minutes in cold weather, you will wear out critical moving parts inside the engine much faster. Over time this will result in your engine not running as well as it should (creating more emissions than it should), not to mention eventually costing you more in engine maintenance or even having to replace the vehicle sooner.

  3. not warming up your car can cause transmission damage leading it to run at high RPMs and not shifting when it should (on an automatic) and wasting gas. In my stick shift it is nearly impossible to change gears if the car has not warmed up. Me struggling at the intersection to put my car into 1st, while the car idles, isn’t going to save anyone any CO2, time or money.

    I am also not going to track to my car with two kids all the school bags and a pitcher of hot water…

    Plus…what about all the warnings not to buckle your kids into the car seat wearing a big coat because in the event of a crash a big fluffy winter coat can compress and decrease the effectiveness of the car seat restraint system… (I’m not sure how much I buy into that idea either though)

  4. This is bad advice for several reasons as mentioned above by other posters, but one other important factor to consider is that a car’s brakes don’t always work well until they are warmed up. That’s a safety issue and not one that’s solved by wearing a warmer coat or giving your car a hot water bath. I’m willing to do my part for the environment, but not at the cost of safety.

  5. Obviously a car’s brakes don’t warm up unless they’re used, so this is certainly not a safety issue. And it’s well known that the vast majority of engines suffer less wear if driven slowly as soon as they’re started.

    I think this is very good advice – the amount of energy saved by following a simple rules can be significant. I found a related article at Recycle for London about saving fuel whilst driving.

  6. Dumbest advice i’ve ever heard. But sure, go for it if you like wearing out your car’s mechanical parts at an accelerated rate due to poor oil circulation, emitting even more carbon than if it was warmed up, and driving with high RPMs which damages the engine in the long term and decreases fuel mileage.

    Some practical advice: fire whoever wrote this.

  7. adil akhtar says:

    i have automatic car its 2007 model, cvt transmission, when i start the car its rpm is normally at 1500 rpm then i leave it idle for at least 5 minutes the rpm comes down to 600 to 700 rpm. is this ok to do.

  8. Its true. There is no need for the people who run their car for 30mins before they leave for work just because they dont want to scrape their windows or be all warm in toasty. Its dumb really


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