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Environmental Health Services

Funding for block heater installations concluded in 2006. 
 

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 in English, Korean, Spanish and Tagalog.

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. 

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. 

Buying a new car or truck? Don't be wowed by the trim package and forget to check for a heater! 

Heaters 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 Health Services
    • Deputy Director: DeeAnn Fetko
    • 825 L Street, 3rd Floor, Anchorage, AK 99501
    • 907 343-6718