Operating your car for a greener result: Tips and Methods Part I

If you are one of those people out there who thinks a green car means you have to own a hybrid or a natural gas vehicle, think again. There are ways to essentially “green” your car without meeting the above criteria. Basically, it matters not what type of car you have: the way you operate the vehicle can save money, fuel and the environment.
Any car that is not in proper condition will burn more fuel and release more pollution into the atmosphere. Below you will find a list of simple ways to green your automobile.
1- Tire Pressure: Surprisingly, as much as 15 percent of the energy required to push your vehicle down the road is utilized in overcoming rolling resistance. This is according to the established laws of physics specifically related to friction. The most effective way to maximize fuel economy is to assure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressures that can be found on most vehicles’ tire placard commonly placed on door jams. It is wise to check your tire pressure whenever you fill your gas tank. A slight drop in pressure by just a few pounds per square inch (psi) will result in a loss in fuel mileage. Also, when replacing your tires consider one of the new lower-rolling resistance models offered by many tire manufacturers now.
2- Maintenance: It is wise to follow the automakers maintenance schedule outlined in the vehicle owner’s manual. These recommendations are generally there for a sound reason, to keep the car in top notch condition. From tune-ups to regular oil and fluid changes and scheduled maintenance programs at x number of miles per your car dealers or manufacturers recommendation are all going to provide you with a greener result.
3- Go Easy: One often overlooked green method for more efficient driving is proper use of your speedometer and tachometer. The tachometer measures just how fast your engine is turning in revolutions per minute, hence rpm. By keeping a watchful eye on your tach and staying below 3,000 rpm as you speed up, you’ll save gas and extend the life of your car. Reduced braking also wastes gas so be aware enough to see what’s coming and coast along whenever possible and brake slowly, progressively.

4- Do Not Idle: If you have had the opportunity to drive a hybrid you will notice that the engine automatically shuts off when it is not needed and automatically restarts when it is time to get up and go. This is one of the primary fuel-saving mechanisms of a hybrid. Essentially, reduce the idle use whenever possible, while waiting for a passenger or stopped at a train crossing, turn it off when you can. For those of you that live in colder climates, avoid the long warm up, your car will heat up much faster and more efficiently if you jump in and run the engine from cold. A block heater is a sound and energy saving solution for those in eternal cold temperatures rather than heating your entire garage or running the engine for several minutes prior to take off.
5- Do Not Race: This one generally goes without saying but far too many break the rule consistently. The math is simple; the faster you travel the more fuel you need to overcome the aerodynamic drag. A viable statistic can be noted here from the EPA; it states that for every 5 mph over 60 mph reduces your gas mileage by 5 to 10 percent. This correlates to you paying 20 cents more per gallon of gas at high speeds not to mention the higher rate of burn.
6- Plan Your Route: Invest the short amount of time it might take you to plan the shortest and fastest route possible. If you have access to the internet take advantage of MapQuest or other such route planning websites that coordinate a simple map from point A to point B in seconds. Also the use of GPS for cars is on the rise and a popular and increasingly cheaper method for efficient road travel. Many cities have traffic reporting websites that are current to the minute, worth the check to determine whether or not there is thick traffic due to unforeseen accidents or construction. For those un-connected folks, keep a paper map in your glove box for reference and planning.
7- Plan Errands Smartly: A major delivery company, UPS, learned that waiting for left-hand turns cost its delivery service driver’s enormous amounts of time and fuel. The company corrected this issue by developing routes that led to an average of four right-hand turns for every left. By implementing this measure UPS saved 51,000 gallons of fuel and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 558 tons over the course of 18 months. UPS took it a step further and ran a test pilot with consumers and discovered that it still worked even for the average Joe driving the streets to run errands. But, simply grouping all your errands into a single trip will help tremendously. Not to mention the little known fact that restarting your engine while warm pollutes less than starting it cold, therefore a full day of errands, “stop and goes,” will have a greener effect.

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