Sustainable Living Tips
Summer is vacation time which means lots of traveling!
Check out your carbon footprint for air and drive at Terrapass
And, here are 10 things you can do to be more fuel efficient:
Follow the Recommended Maintenance
Fouled spark plugs, a
dirty air filter or clogged fuel filter will all affect your fuel
economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), replacing a
clogged air filter can increase your mileage by 10 percent, while
replacing an oxygen sensor could result in an improvement as high as 40
percent. Proper maintenance also means using the right octane gas and
the recommended grade of motor oil.
Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated
Underinflated tires require more energy to roll, which translates into
more frequent fill-ups. You can improve your fuel economy by about 3.3
percent if you keep your tires inflated properly, according to the DOE.
The psi number noted on the sidewall of your tires is the maximum pressure of the tire and is not
the proper inflation level for your car. Your vehicle manufacturer will
list the recommended tire pressure in your owner's manual or a sticker
on the doorjamb of the driver-side door. Buy a tire-pressure gauge and
check your tires monthly, adding air as necessary.
Take a Load Off
Empty out your trunk (or even
your backseat) of unnecessary items. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk
will reduce your fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent in the typical vehicle.
If you have a roof rack or roof carrier, install it on your vehicle
only when absolutely necessary. Not only does the carrier add extra
weight, but it also increases the aerodynamic drag on the vehicle,
which further contributes to a loss of fuel economy.
Don't Drive Aggressively
Mashing the accelerator pedal from a
stoplight, braking hard and speeding all contribute to a decrease in
fuel economy. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination and
think "steady and smooth" as you drive. On surface streets, driving at
the speed limit will give you mostly green lights, which improves your
gas mileage as well as reduces the wear on your brakes. On the highway,
the DOE says that every 5 mph you drive over 65 mph represents a
7-percent decrease in fuel economy.
Use the Highest Gear Possible
To improve your fuel economy, drive in
the highest gear possible when you are cruising at a steady speed, such
as on the highway. If your vehicle has an automatic transmission with a
"sport" mode, it's most likely that this is a computer program designed
to shift later (and therefore keep you in a lower gear longer). While
this gives you greater performance, driving in "sport" mode will also
decrease your fuel economy.
Use Cruise Control - Selectively
Using cruise control can improve your gas mileage by helping you
maintain a steady speed, but only if you are driving on mostly flat
roads. If you are driving in hilly terrain, using cruise control
typically causes your vehicle to speed up faster (to maintain the
preset speed) than it would if you were operating the accelerator
yourself. Before you push that cruise control button, think about the
Keeping your car washed and waxed improves aerodynamics and therefore
affects fuel economy. Engineer Tom Wagner, Jr. reported to
Stretcher.com (as in stretching your dollars) a 7-percent improvement
in fuel economy, from 15 to 16 mpg, during a 1,600-mile road trip.
Avoid Excessive Idling
When a car is idling, it is using fuel, yet not going anywhere. This
translates to 0 mpg. When you leave your car running while you are
waiting in line at the drive-thru, or as you wait outside your kids'
school, you are wasting fuel. It is more efficient to turn the engine
off while you wait and then restart the car. If that's not practical
(like in the line at McDonald's), then park the car and go inside
Think Before You Vent(ilate)
Running your air conditioner does cause your vehicle to consume more
fuel, but driving with your windows rolled down can be even worse due
to the increase of drag on the vehicle. If you are driving slowly, such
as around town or in city traffic, then you are better off leaving your
windows open, if at all possible. For highway driving, roll up the
windows and turn the air conditioning on.
Combine Your Errands
A little planning can make a big difference in fuel economy. When your
engine is cold, it uses more fuel than when it is warm. Combining
errands can improve your gas mileage because your engine will be warm
for more of the trip. It might also mean you travel less total miles.
According to the DOE, several short trips all begun with a cold start
can use twice as much fuel as a single, longer trip that covers the