Let’s face it – the days of paying $2.00 or less per gallon of gas are long gone and probably will never return! But the fact remains that for most Americans, having a vehicle is essential to their way of life. Between the commute to work, weekend trips and running regular errands, the cost of a fill-up can be pretty painful to the wallet.
Although many auto manufacturers are continuing to perfect cars that use alternate fuel sources, not everyone can afford to buy a new hybrid or electric vehicle. The good news for most of us is that the automakers are also continuing to increase fuel efficiency in those vehicles that are gasoline powered. So, by following some (or all) of the tips in this article, you can help to increase your fuel economy and savings by up to 47%. Cutting back on the amount of gas your vehicle is using can help in two major ways: it will save money and it is also beneficial to the environment.
These “green” driving tips will not only help to cut back on the pollution emitted by your car, but can also help to keep a little more “green” in your wallet!
1. Remove Unnecessary Items from Your Car
Much like the human body, extra or unnecessary weight in your car requires more energy (fuel) to get from point A to point B. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that for every 100 extra pounds your car carries, it loses 2% of its fuel economy. By removing any unnecessary items from the trunk and back seat, you can help to keep that loss to a minimum.
2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated
We’ve mentioned this suggestion in prior blog posts, but it can’t be stressed enough. Properly-inflated tires have less contact with the road and, therefore, encounter less friction. By reducing the amount of friction your tires have to overcome, your engine doesn’t have to work as hard to move the vehicle. According to the EPA, properly-inflated tires can increase your fuel economy by up to 3%.
Another option is to switch to low rolling-resistance tires, which are harder than regular tires so they encounter even less friction. There is a down side to this option–harder tires will affect the way your car handles the road.
3. Reduce The Need for Speed
Speeding, hard-braking and jack-rabbit acceleration are a bad combination when it comes to fuel economy. When starting, stopping, and accelerating, your vehicle must overcome inertia (the resistance force an object meets when changing its state of motion). Overcoming this force requires energy and in the case of a car, that means gas. Speeding, accelerating quickly, and braking hard can deplete efficiency by 33%, according to the EPA.1 On the other hand, slow acceleration, coasting, and gradual stopping will have the opposite effect and will help to preserve the gas in your tank.
4. Car Pooling and Ride Sharing
Car pooling and ride sharing are great ways to cut down on fuel consumption. Both options offer drivers a way to split the driving and fuel costs, while collectively reducing the amount of gas being used, damage to the environment from pollution, and the miles put on each vehicle. In addition, many areas with heavy congestion offer High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes for car poolers to use. Since most people drive by themselves, HOV lanes typically have fewer cars and less traffic, benefiting drivers by saving time as well.
5. The Wheels on the Bus – Taking Public Transportation
Public transportation is a great alternative to getting behind the wheel of your own vehicle. Aside from the fact that it is a fraction of the cost of driving yourself around town, it is also a much more environmentally-friendly way to get around. Most public transportation systems run on clean-burning natural gas or electricity depending on the mode of transportation, and in the case of rail line transport, have virtually no traffic to compete with. The main down side of public transportation is the added time needed to get where you’re going due the frequent stops made and the time needed for passengers to embark/disembark.
6. Other Alternatives
In addition to the items listed above, there are some other things that can be done to be more “green” with your car. Some of them are not for everyone, but other options include converting your vehicle to a bio-diesel engine, down-grading from an SUV (if you drive one) to a more fuel-efficient vehicle, and looking into four-day work weeks or telecommuting at your place of employment.
With the cost of fuel continually on the rise, conserving fuel, improving fuel economy, and helping to reduce excess fuel consumption is essential. Hopefully, these tips can help you to find ways to improve on all of those things and save some money in the process.
Do you have any tips for cutting down on fuel consumption, fuel cost, or just about going more “green” in your vehicle? Let us know in the comments section below – we value your opinion!
*image courtesy of StockMonkeys.com