Idle time is the devil's play
The headline above is a quote referring to unproductive time; today I’m going to be using it to refer to time in which you are idling your car. Every minute your car is idling, it is detrimental to the engine, it’s detrimental to the earth, and it wastes gasoline (and money). It is estimated that in the United States, approximately 3.8 million gallons of gasoline are wasted daily by Americans voluntarily idling their car. Voluntary idling is when your car is on while not being driven. For example, leaving your car on in the driveway is voluntary idling; waiting for a light to turn green is not.
Voluntarily idling your car greatly increases the amount of exhaust in our air. Exhaust contains many harmful pollutants linked to asthma, lung diseases, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems. Think about one place that lots of people voluntarily idle their cars: schools! While parents and caregivers pick up/drop off their children at school, they usually leave their car running. With so many idling cars around, the air quality around the school is low, and children are breathing that in.
Moreover, sitting in an idling car releases more dirty air into the cabin, which is what you end up breathing. Other examples of times in which cars sit idle are: people pulling over to talk on cell phones, leaving crowded sporting events or concerts, leaving the car running at valet stands, and running the car to warm it up for a few minutes.
What can you do? The Environmental Defense Fund suggests that if you are going to be waiting more than 10 seconds, turn your car off! Idling for 10 seconds wastes more energy than restarting the engine. You also do not need to warm up your engine in the winter; today’s engines do not need to warm up. The best way to warm it up is to avoid excess engine revving after you start it; the engine warms twice as quickly while driving than idling.
You may have heard that frequent restarts of a car’s engine are hard on the engine and battery. This is no longer true. Idling is actually more detrimental to the engine because it is causing it to operate longer than necessary.
For every 10 minutes you have your car turned off, you will prevent one pound of carbon monoxide from entering the environment. Carbon dioxide is the main contributor to global warming. It is estimated that on average, people voluntarily idle their cars for 5-10 minutes a day. Five minutes of idling burns between a half and a whole cup of gasoline. This can add up to as much as 10 to 20 gallons of gasoline over the course of a year! So, not only is avoiding idling better for the environment, it saves you money!
Please try to become mindful of the times in which your car is idle, and start to turn it off during those times. Becoming aware of these habits is the first step to breaking them! You’re probably thinking that you, one person, will not help much – however this small action, when taken cumulatively, can prevent a large amount of carbon dioxide from being emitted into the air.
This is another simple, easy step you can take to help the earth, help the health of yourself and others, as well as help save you money! Remember, “idle time is the devil’s play!”