Winter Warm Up's



I live in Michigan and on winter mornings (20 degree F or less) I start my 2006 GMC 2500HD for a few minutes prior to driving off to work. I understand that long warm ups are environmentaly incorrect, and that it’s unnecessary for gas powered vehicles, but what about turbo diesels. The truck just seems to run smoother right from the get go after a few minutes of idling. I have used the engine block heater in the past, but after the getting the electrical bill, I changes to a few minutes of warming up instead. Last weeks show commented that the winter warm ups are just a waste of $ and pollute the environment.


I looked at block heater wattage and it looks like the range is 100 to 1500 watts.
Nebraska Electric had this estimate.
Auto engine heater (500 watt) 4.7? / hour
How much did your electric bill go up?


You need to put the electric block heater on a TIMER! These cost as little as $10, and all you need is 1.5 hours of heating until the engine is warmed up. If you park outside use 2 hours in cold weather.

So, if the heater is 1000 watts (a big one), and you use it 1.5 hours per night, that’s 45 kilowatt-hours per month, at 8 cents (typical rate) which equals $3.60 per month to keep your engine nice and warm and extend its life. Even if you use a very large heater of 1500 watts, that’s only $4.80 per month.

Your 50" plasma TV, by comparison, uses 600 watts and if you watch it 4 hours per day, it costs you $5.76 per month.


Unless you have a high idle function, diesels don’t actually warm up at idle. They over cool after the first couple minutes. A couple minutes should not be a problem, but any more than that is counter productive.


You know it’s funny that you suggested the TIMER. Because that’s what I did when it was really cold (below zero)for about a week long stretch. But my owners manual suggested at least 4 hours of plugged in time. And when you do the math, the electricity really isn’t bad at all. However, when it only moderately cold, back to the 20-30 degree F range, it just seems easier to make two trips to the truck, one to start the truck, load up, then go back in pour the coffee kiss the wife and head out.


Good point - it does have the high idle function. And now that others have opened my eyes to the real cost of just plugging in…at least for the minimum suggested time. I’d bet the cost is cheaper to plug in than burning the additional fuel…


I have a diesel, and it is not my first. I never leave my car idle before driving it (down to about -20? F. It is generally better for all cars not to idle them to warm up, unless you are driving off and right onto the freeway.