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Keep your car warm and the windows ice-free

You're all about protecting the environment, but you're also all about keeping your hands warm in minus 20 degree weather when you climb into the car. Keeping a vehicle running in the driveway means spewing fumes into the environment, and might attract car thieves as well. So how can you have frost-free windows and a warm interior without turning the car on first?

This small selection of car heaters could do the trick. When properly used and installed, their manufacturers promise they will warm up the car effectively, keeping your toes and fingers comfortable on even the coldest mornings.

12V Ceramic Car Heater

Price: $99.99

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Available at: Canadian Tire

As with all the car heaters profiled this week, this heater requires advanced car mechanic skills to install. Essentially, you need to Velcro the heater to a firm spot in the car (like the area behind the backseat), screw it into place, then connect the power cable to the battery.

Once that's all done, though, the flexibility and ease of use this heater offers are easy enough for a child to use. There are three settings marked by a large button - "Fan", "Off" and "Heater". A large switch cycles between them.

You can also swivel the heater up to 60 degrees left and right to better aim the heat at a particular spot, which is great for quickly defrosting a side window.

The installation guide warns against blown fuses with this product, which is a downside. So make sure you have one or two fuses if you need to use the heater in a hurry.

Pyroil Interior Car Warmer

Price: $69.99

Available at: Canadian Tire

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Once all is said and done with installation, all this warmer needs is a standard plug to turn on. The rest of the installation is not that straightforward, though.

The manual explains that this product must be installed in an area with good circulation, like the side door or just underneath the dash. Brackets and a couple of small screws secure it in place.

With the heater securely in the car, you then have to route the cord through the engine compartment and over to a spot where you can plug it in. This may require drilling, so watch for any electrical or moving parts as you do so.

Unfortunately, you must go outside to manually plug the unit in. It's still a nice option, though, to keep your toes warm as you do work in the car.

'Lil' Buddy Interior Car Warmer

Price: $79.99

Available at: Canadian Tire

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Installation instructions are almost identical to the Pyroil - you attach this unit to a mounting bracket in an area that has a lot of circulation, then finagle the cord safely through the firewall to a spot where you can plug the unit in.

The unit will only turn on when you've plugged it into the male outlet at the front of the vehicle, meaning it's somewhat inconvenient to maintain temperature control when you're working inside the car.

When compared with the Pyroil, the heating is more robust. The fan looks less likely to come apart quickly and the vent is located more near the front of the heater - so the heat will fan out better into the car rather than directly below, warming the area up quicker.

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