Idling vehicles to stay warm comes at a price

This record-breaking icy cold winter has got many New Brunswickers leaving their cars idling but it comes at a cost to their pocketbooks and the environment.

Gas guzzler and pollutant

This record-breaking icy cold winter has got many New Brunswickers leaving their cars idling.

Although many cities across Canada have bylaws aimed at reducing idling, there is no such legislation in New Brunswick, except for some provincial government vehicles.

Still, the associated costs may have some thinking twice about leaving their vehicles running.

Idling is a gas guzzler. Just five minutes a day costs motorists about $70 a year. And running an engine for more than 10 seconds costs more than stopping and restarting.

There are also other costs to consider, says Barbara MacKinnon, of the New Brunswick Lung Association.

"If you inhale nitrogen dioxide, it can bring on an asthma attack. It can make breathing more difficult."

Idling also contributes to air pollution and greenhouse gases, she said.

"It's bad for the environment to warm up your car," agrees Fredericton motorist Andrew Titus. "And I mean really, you're only going to be sitting in it for a few minutes, and it's going to be warm in no time anyway."

"I grew up in Toronto, so I would never leave a car running," said fellow motorist Andrew Wilkins.

Tammy Adams said the only time she idles is in her driveway. "If it did become law here, I would uphold it. I would just be a little colder," she said.

Fredericton Coun. Bruce Grandy believes public education about idling serves as a better incentive to stop the practice than fines.

Ron Boulter, of Ron's Auto Upholstery in Fredericton, says many people are opting for remote car starters, which cost about $400 installed.

"We'll have a rush on them if we find that the weather is being continually cold like it is this winter," he said.