Brace yourself for this: you probably wasted $818 or more last year just sitting in traffic, stopping and going, painfully waiting for the jerk clogging the fast lane to just drive off a cliff and let you by (OK, you don’t really want him off a cliff, but in the moment it does sound satisfying). As a country, we wasted $121 billion dollars in fuel and time stuck in traffic, not to mention the 56 billion pounds of extra carbon dioxide released into the environment, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.
Toxic waste dumps, gas and fuel leaking into our ground and water supply. Even with the help of remediation companies like Sevenson Environmental, lawsuits and organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency, reducing our carbon footprint as people still requires all of our help.
Relax. It doesn’t mean having to plant and harvest your own macrobiotic garden, forgoing your SUV for a donkey and cart. Simply and painlessly changing your driving practices can have more of an impact on your gas usage and cost than you could even imagine. Environmentally conscious companies the world over would rejoice.
Guzzle no More
According to Mother Jones news, devout Hypermilers can save up to 50 percent on their gas usage by adopting simple methods to their driving practices. Record holder and Hypermiler celebrity Wayne Gerdes was able to complete a 1,445 mile trip on a single tank of gas, averaging 81 mpg (double the vehicle’s EPA rating of 39 mpg). The journey was completed in a hybrid vehicle, but the savings are just as real in any vehicle. Gerdes exclaims that Hypermiling not only makes you a more aware driver, but it produces savings that few other practices ever will. Not to mention, cutting down on foreign oil dependence helps quite a bit too. Employing Gerdes’ practices can help you get more than 40 percent more miles per gallon, no matter what kind of car you drive.
- Lighten Your Load: Take out any excess weight, from sand bags to bike racks to pillows, any additional weight increases gas use.
- Lead Foot Feather Foot: Wind resistance increases with speed, especially while you’re accelerating. When it’s time to speed up, speed up slowly and steadily. Following posted speed limits helps with gas mileage. Studies have shown that you don’t get to your destination any faster by speeding. You just waste gas getting to that red light. When you brake, do so slowly and gradually, because every time you break, you’re wasting gas burned during acceleration.
- Don’t Blow it All: Air conditioning can reduce the efficiency of your fuel by up to 25 percent, and unless it’s over 100 degrees, it’s seldom needed. In lieu of the A/C, try cracking the driver’s side window and opposite back passenger’s window for optimal air flow. When driving on the highway, or at high speeds, using the ventilation system instead will save you money.
Paul Richmond, the author of this article, is a computer engineer who made the switch to smart car engineer. Paul keeps up with hybrid and alternative energy fueled cars that are flooding the auto industry.
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