Monday, June 16, 2008

Driving Green

I know that for some people, like me, not driving my car is not an option. I have no other way to get to work unless I wanted to get up at 5 am and leave on my bike by 7 am in order to get to work on time. And, as much as I want to, I cannot afford to go out and buy a hybrid right now. So what am I to do if I don't want to pollute every time I go to work? Well, there are some things that you can do that will help to reduce your tail pipe emissions and improve your fuel economy. I found this article that highlights most of the things I've been reading online lately.

If you don't want to read the whole thing, here are the highlights plus some tips that I've picked up from reading various other articles online about conserving your fuel.

  1. Don't race the guy next to you to see who's first off the line when you're at a stop light. As fun as it is, it wastes your gas.
  2. Try to anticipate your stops and let your car coast to a stop, or at least close to it. You need to use your breaks at some point, but costing before you apply them will save you wear and tear on your breaks and a little gas too.
  3. Avoid idling as much as you can. When you idle for more than 30 seconds at a time you start to waste your fuel. I know that this isn't always avoidable but there are times when you can just turn off your engine. Like when you drive through the bank or if you go to the Sonic drive in.
  4. Avoid driving in rush hour (if you can). Talk to your boss; you might find that he would be OK with you coming in and leaving an hour early so that you can miss the traffic!
  5. Using your air conditioning only when you're on the highway is a good idea. Your fuel efficiency is better and so you don't end up using as much gas. Driving around town with your windows open not only gives you that sexy wind-blown look, but it will save some of your gas since your car isn't burning fuel as well as it does on the highway.
  6. Something I found interesting is that for most cars 60 MPH is when they are at their most efficient at burning fuel. Sure, you may have to add 10 minutes onto your travel time ... but isn't that extra time worth saving some fuel? I think so.
  7. Combine your errands. A warm engine is more efficient than doing a cold start up every time you need to run out and get something. So go to the gym right from work or pick up your dry cleaning before you head over to the bank to deposit your paycheck.
Even just reading this article has made me more aware of my accelerating and braking habits and I have started making a more concentrated effort to combine my trips out of the house. Starting next week I am going to go all out and keep track of how many more miles I can get on a tank of gas. Usually it's 300 miles if I use the AC, almost 400 if I don't (I've been a minimal AC user in my car for a couple years now) and I am interested to see if I can add any miles to that with these other tips. I will report back to you next Friday with the results of this highly unscientific study.

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