One Less – Energy Conservation on the Road

Last week, we provided some home energy savings tips. This week we look at transportation — our automobiles and trucks!

Believe it or not, our vehicles consume roughly the same amount of energy as our homes, so it pays off tremendously to consider ways to make your car or truck more efficient, and to use it less often.

Type of Vehicle

  • When buying a car or truck, choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs.
  • When renting a vehicle, rent the smallest one available. Sometimes you can even rent a hybrid vehicle.

One Less - Energy Conservation on the Road

  • Avoid driving altogether! Whenever you can, walk, bike, car pool, or use mass transit. If possible, offer to telecommute.
  • Buying locally produced food has scads of energy and environmental benefits – less fuel wasted transporting food, less packaging, less pesticides and toxin exposure. Buying local “in season” fruits and vegetables also reduces use of energy intensive greenhouses.
  • Buy minimally packaged goods. Less energy producing the package and less landfill waste.
  • Choose reusable products over disposable ones, and recycle.
  • Try to live close to your work or school.

Driving Style

  • Avoid dramatic stop-and-go driving, which uses twice as much gas as gradual starts.
    Pace your driving, anticipating lights and slowdowns.
  • Plan trips in advance, combining short trips into one errand run.
  • Try to minimize traffic idling. If possible, avoid driving during rush hour altogether.
  • Don’t speed. By driving 55 mph instead of 65, you improve your fuel efficiency by 15%.
  • Avoid rough roads when possible, as they increase fuel consumption.

Vehicle Maintenance

  • Put items inside the vehicle rather than on roof racks to reduce drag. If possible, remove roof racks when not in use. Remove unnecessary weight from your trunk. Every 100 pounds of stuff you keep in your car reduces fuel economy by 2%.
  • Give your vehicle a regular tune-up. Most critical is your oxygen sensor; a bad sensor can increase gas costs by 40%. Next is the air filter. If clogged, it can increase gas costs by 10%. Also, change the fuel filter at least once a year.
  • Make sure your tires are fully inflated to the recommended levels. Five pounds per square inch lower than recommended increases gas use by 10%.
  • Remove snow tires in summer.

More information:
Conserving Energy on the Road

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