How long should a well-maintained car be plugged in?

by | Oct 28, 2014 | Plugging in a car | 0 comments

If your car has been winterized, you should have a plug coming out the front end of your car.  Most winterization kits include an engine block heater, a battery pad heater, an oil pan heater and a three-way cord with a lighted end (so you can plug in all of these heaters in with one cord.)Plug It In

The Fairbanks North Star Borough recommends plugging in vehicles when the temperature hits 20° F above zero (or colder).  But your car does not need to be plugged in all the time.  If you did plug it in all of the time, your electric bill would skyrocket.  For example, if you plugged in the average car (1,000 watt load) for 10 hours each night, the monthly electric cost would be about $60.  Just two hours would run $12 per month.

A well-maintained car really only needs about two hours of plugged-in time to warm up.  Also, it typically takes about two hours for a car to cool down after it has been running.  So, if you plan to drive your car again within two hours, there is no need to plug in.  When the temperature reaches 20 below zero or colder, you may want to increase the amount of time your car is plugged in, but generally not more than four hours.

GVEA recommends purchasing a vehicle plug-in timer.  Instead of waking up two hours early to plug in your car, let the timer do it for you.

For more information about plugging in and timers, check out GVEA’s YouTube video.

Note: The electric rates used in this article were current at the time of posting. The most-current rates can be found here.


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