Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay Hydro is handing out free block heater timers

It’s an all too familiar struggle for many people in northwestern Ontario. Plugging in your car so it starts in the morning during those cold winter months. Thunder Bay Hydro wants to help with that. They are launching a pilot project giving out free block heaters timers for your car.

Plugging in your car in the winter is an all too familiar struggle for many Canadians

Thunder Bay Hydro launching a new program catered to the specific needs of northwestern Ontario residents. Keeping your engine warm with a block heater timer over those long cold winter months. (Jackie McKay )

It's an all too familiar struggle for many people in northwestern Ontario. Plugging in your car so it starts in the morning during those cold winter months.

Thunder Bay Hydro wants to help with that. They're launching a pilot project giving out free block heaters timers for your car.

The device connects the plug in your car to the outlet in your driveway setting it on a timer.

"It's not really necessary to have your car plugged in all night," said Jason Ramage, service manager at Done-Rite Tire and Auto in Thunder Bay.

When it's below -15 degrees the oil in your car becomes thicker and has a harder time lubricating the engine. The block heater warms your engine before you start the car so the oil is able to flow. Ramage recommends setting the heater block to four hours before you need to use the car. 

"If you need to plug it in longer than there is some sort of under lying issue with the car," said Ramage.

Thunder Bay Hydro has 4,000 block heater timers to give out to their customers in Thunder Bay, Atikokan, Fort Frances, Kenora and Sioux Lookout. The Independent Electricity System Operator is funding the program to run until March. If it's successful than it can become a permanent program.

"This is something that they don't deal with necessarily in the rest of the province and this is an energy consumption that is unique to our customers," said Lesley Macniven, supervisor of energy efficiency services for Thunder Bay Hydro. "We wanted to do something that can help them with their winter energy bills."

The block heater can save customers up to $25 a year, according to Thunder Bay Hydro. Anyone who would like a block heater can contact Thunder Bay Hydro.