Earth Day comes just once a year.
But that doesn’t mean we stop caring about the environment the rest of the year.
If you don’t expect to purchase an alternative-fuel or higher-mpg vehicle in the near future, what can you do to reduce your environmental tire print?
“Drive more efficiently, keep your car in shape, plan and combine trips,” says the U.S. Energy Department’s fueleconomy.gov, which besides addressing gasoline-powered vehicles, offers “tips for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles” on the website.
It’s environment – not to mention budget – friendly because aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. This step alone can lower gasoline consumption by 15 percent to 30 percent if you’re traveling at highway speeds and 10 percent to 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.
Observe the speed limit
“While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph,” says fueleconomy.gov. Stated another way, “each five mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional 16 cents per gallon for gas.”
Avoid hauling cargo on your roof
This increases wind resistance and reduces fuel economy: A large, blunt rooftop box, for example, can reduce mpg up to 8 percent in city driving, 17 percent highway, and 25 percent on the interstate.
Remove excess weight
“Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones,” says fueleconomy.gov. “An extra 100 pounds could reduce your mpg about 1 percent … The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.”
Use cruise control
On the highway, this helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
Maintain your vehicle
Keeping your engine properly tuned, properly inflating tires and using the recommended grade of motor oil for your vehicle all save fuel and reduce emissions, says fueleconomy.gov.
Drive less if you can
Stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush hours, drive your most fuel-efficient vehicle, telecommute if your employer permits it, take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs and take public transit. Combine errands into one trip, reducing the amount of time you drive with a cold engine.
“You don’t necessarily have to go out and purchase a brand new fuel-efficient car to save on gas,” wrote Kira Botkin in 9 ways to improve your car’s gas mileage and drive efficiently at MoneyCrashers.com. “There is plenty you can do to increase your gas mileage.”
And celebrate Earth Day.