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Environmental Services

Funding for block heater installations concluded in 2006. 

November 15, 2014 Timer Distribution at University Center Mall Health Fair (8:00AM-12:00PM)

 

Municipal residents who have block heaters installed in their personal vehicles are welcome to come by the University Mall Community Health Fair on Saturday, November 15th to receive a free timer. Staff will show recipients how to program timers to turn electricity on to vehicles two to three hours before their morning commute. Timers save electricity and make block heater use more convenient.   

If you received a timer in prior winters but do not have instructions to your model, see our Why Plug at 20 page for links to instructions.

Timers were purchased for air quality improvement by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration through Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to the municipality. Timers increase the use of block heaters by reducing electrical costs and increasing convenience for motorists. 

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Timers

Many timers being sold are not appropriate for use with block heaters in very cold climates.  See our Why Plug at 20 page for timer features you should seek or should avoid, as well as instructions for timers distributed in prior winters. 

Air Quality Program: Engine Block Heaters

Snow and cold weather are here!  To reduce engine wear and start more easily, start using your engine block heater.

Buying a new car or truck? Don't be wowed by the trim package and forget to check for a heater! They are typically much cheaper installed at the factory.  The window sticker lists block heaters among the vehicle options, if installed. Sometimes 'cold weather package' or 'cold climate package' indicates the vehicle has a block heater and other cold climate features, such as a heavy-duty battery, a cab heater or heated seats.

Buying a used vehicle? Sometimes an electric plug from the heater can be seen hanging from the grill, if equipped. A mechanic can confirm that the heater still works on an older vehicle.

Do you drive a  vehicle without a heater? Your dealer or mechanic may be able to provide an estimate by phone given your vehicle year/model.  For many models, installations are less than $200.  The federal grant program that subsidized block heaters expired in 2006 after 13,000 installations.

Always plug in? For convenience and electrical savings, locate your timer and outdoor extension cord.  Mount your timer on the garage or post near your electrical receptacle above 3 feet (snow level). Instructions for setting a timer are linked below.

A study performed by Sierra Research in Anchorage and Fairbanks compared emissions from vehicles at cold temperatures. The local testing established that use of block heaters substantially reduces start-up emissions and fuel consumption. 

Exhaust from cold engines is rich in carbon monoxide (CO) and toxic air contaminants, but pre-heating engines two to three hours before starting reduces CO emissions by nearly 60%.  We encourage motorists to ensure that any vehicle they buy is equipped with a block heater – and to Plug@20!

More Plug@20 information:

    • Environmental Services
    • Deputy Director/Division Manager: Steve Morris
    • 825 L Street, 3rd Floor, Anchorage, AK 99501
    • 907 343-6976