This feature was developed for, and in conjunction with, ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly. The Daily Green's Dan Shapley was a guest on the popular daytime show April 9.
Green driving? An oxymoron, maybe, given the prodigious pollution created by American vehicles, contributing to everything from smog and asthma, to acid rain and global warming.
But the good news is that everyone who drives can use these easy tips to not only cut down on that pollution, but also save money. With the average price of gas across the U.S. this week at $3.33, that is a very good thing.
Make that $3.33 drive like $3 a gallon. Reduce fuel burned, and fuel bought, by as much as 10% by getting your oil changed, and having dirty air filters replaced. Check your owner's manual, but most experts recommend changing your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Have your air filter checked with each oil change, and replace it when necessary to keep your engine running cleanly and efficiently.
Remember, when you reduce your fuel consumption, and cost, by 10% you are also reducing your pollution by 10%. That means less smog, less asthma, less carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. So these small tips, magnified across millions of people, can make a real difference.
Remember this one when packing for vacation this summer. First, pack only what you really need, because every 100 pounds you take off will make that $3.33 look closer to $3.26 improving fuel economy by 1-2%. Imagine two gas stations side-by-side, one charging 3.33 and the other charging 3.26 which would you pull into?
Importantly, once you're done with your vacation, remove the roof carrier. You don't need it. It will increase drag, and add weight you don't need, driving up the amount of fuel it takes to get around town.
Park in the shade, park in the garage. Why? If you step into a 110-degree car, you will crank the air conditioning, and you will be driving as if you paid $3.73 12% more for those gallons of gas you burn driving around. Park in the shade, maybe you get away with cracking the window, or using the A/C on low.
A lot of people don't think of this, but according to some estimates, about one in 10 cars on the road is either missing its gas cap, or driving around with a damaged cap. A tight seal is the goal, so check for cracks in the plastic, or brittleness in the gasket. Either can lead to evaporation, which not only means you're losing gallons you could otherwise burn to get around town, but also means that your gas tank is emitting pollution without you even driving. One study found a single leaking gas cap can be responsible for 175 pounds pounds of air pollution in a year. Those pollutants leak out as vapors that contribute to smog, which can cause asthma attacks and other lung and heart illness.
That $3.33 is going to drive like $3.43 or so because you're burning as much as 3% more fuel if you don't have your tires inflated properly. Even more importantly, when you're at the shop, have your tires aligned. You can make that $3.33 look like just $3 10% less if you align your tires.
Afraid of math? Don't worry, this one is easy. Just keep a notebook in your car, and get in the habit of clicking your trip meter whenever you fuel up. When you refuel, write down how many miles you've driven since your last fuel-up. This your miles driven. Then take note of how many gallons it takes to fill your tank. This is the gallons burned.
Divide miles driven the number on the trip meter with the gallons burned the number on the pump. Voila! You now know how many miles per gallon you got on that tank of gas.
Write down the figure, and compare it from fill-up to fill-up. If you see a decrease in mileage, seek hekp to diagnose and fix whatever is amiss.
If you're accelerating from 65 to 70 to 75 mph, imagine the price of that gallon of gas you burn going up from $3.33 to 3.56 to $3.79 about 7% for every 5 mph you drive, especially over 65 mph.
Other no-nos include riding the brake, racing zero-to-60 (or whatever) from a stop, screeching to a stop (coast into it as much as possible), and driving with herky-jerky motions.
Think of it like this: You can get a buy two, get one free deal at the gas station by reforming your worst driving habits.
Simple: Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Zero.
The worst offense is the school parking lot, where you not only have parents' cars, trucks and SUVs idling, and big diesel school buses idling, but also students standing around breathing it in.
Mor than 9 Million American children have asthma. The pollution from vehicles, especially those big diesel buses, but also cars and SUVs, can send those asthmatic kids into coughing fits. And for what? Zero miles per gallon.
The biggest impact on pollution and fuel use happen before we get in the car. How far do we have to commute because of where we live? (One study found the cost of commuting erases the discount of buying a home in the suburbs.) Can we drop the kids at Taekwondo, go to the store and drop your mail at the PO in the same trip, rather than taking three separate trips to town? Do we have to drive at all?
That's where public transportation comes in. If you can take the subway, or the bus, or the sidewalk, do it.
Our public transit system in the U.S. saves 3.4 billion gallons of oil every year. It prevents 26 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution.
Toyota Hybrid Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid both get better than 45 mpg. Putting fuel in them will still cost you about $1,000 a year. But you can pay 3-4 times that much for some of the biggest gas guzzlers. Click here for a list of all the 10 most fuel-efficient 2008 vehicles.
And again, remember the less you pay for gas, the less oil is pumped, the less gas is refined, the less fuel is burned. That means less pollution, less smog, less asthma, less global warming. And if we all do these simple steps, we'll save some cash while we help make a little difference to the environment.
Click here for The Daily Green's original feature, Save 20% on Gas Everyday
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