12 Eco-Friendly Driving Techniques That Help You Save Money and Avoid Disaster
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Approximately 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the United States come from transportation. While energy-efficient cars can help reduce the harmful effects of pollution on the environment, there is so much more we can do to make transportation environmentally friendly and cost-effective. Below are 13 ways you can save money, reduce your car’s carbon emissions, the benefits of electric cars and easy ways to go green.
1. Practice Safe Driving
Each five miles per hour over 60 mph increases your gas bill by 10 cents per gallon. Driving the speed limit is safer and helps you save gas. Driving aggressively can waste gas, so drivers should take it easy on their brakes and gas pedal in order to reduce their car’s GHG emissions. Replace aggressive driving or sudden starts and stops with gentle acceleration. You can reduce your gas usage by about 15% to 30% by eliminating fast driving, rapid acceleration and constant braking.
2. Properly Inflate Your Tires
Did you know that tire pressure can affect your gas emissions? Low tire pressure wastes over 4 million gallons of gas yearly. When your tire pressure is too low, your tires won’t roll efficiently, making your engine work harder to keep your car moving. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure they have the right amount of pressure.
3. Get an Oil Change & Change Your Filters Regularly
Regularly maintaining your car improves fuel efficiency by up to 40%. Your car’s air filters keep your car running efficiently as long as you replace them regularly.
4. Limit the Use of Your A/C
It’s hard not to blast the A/C on a hot summer day, but constantly keeping your air conditioning running can hurt your gas efficiency. Using A/C can increase your gas cost by 20%. Rolling down your windows can make your car less aerodynamic which can also waste gas. The best way to stay cool is to use flow-through ventilation, which comes with most cars.
5. Find the Shortest Routes
Finding the shortest distance between two points can be more eco-friendly and cost-effective. Long routes can take a toll on the environment, so try to find the most efficient route.
6. Use Cruise Control When on Longer Trips
Each additional five miles per hour you drive above 50 miles per hour costs an additional 18 cents per gallon, meaning you’re using more gas and emitting more carbon dioxide. Cruise control can help maintain a lower speed for you. Just make sure the weather looks good and traffic isn’t heavy.
7. Avoid Carrying Heavy Items in or on Your Car
Drivers should always have some things in their car (like an emergency kit), but keeping too many unnecessary things can reduce fuel efficiency. Keeping your car as light as possible will greatly improve your gas mileage. This also applies to accessories attached to your car like roof racks or bike racks. They can decrease your gas mileage since they increase wind resistance.
8. Don’t Take Unnecessary Trips
Cars create a massive amount of pollution — plus, gas isn’t cheap. However, if you can’t stop driving, you can save money and help the environment by driving as little as possible. Staying local, carpooling with coworkers or friends, telecommuting, public transit and altering your commute or working remotely are just some ways to keep your driving to a minimum.
9. Consider Alternative Forms of Transportation
There are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint and save money. Here are other ways to travel that don’t involve a car:
- Carpooling: Did you know that the average American spends 18 days worth of carbon emissions commuting each year? If you could carpool with other people, you could help reduce carbon emissions while splitting the cost of gas.
- Public transportation: In cities with viable and accessible public transportation, it’s easy and cost-efficient to drive your car less.
- Biking: Biking just once a day can reduce your carbon emissions by 67%.
- Electric bikes: For some people, biking simply isn’t an option for commuting, either due to physical ailments or a long distance to and from work. Electric bikes and scooters can get you around the city and through traffic without harming the environment. Plus, they’re incredibly fun to ride!
- Hybrid or Electric cars: As fun as electric bikes are, they aren’t a great option on a rainy day or if you need to carry groceries home. Electric cars can be a little expensive, but they pay for themselves over time.
- Walking: When possible, walking to work can help you reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day, and it saves you money.
- Telecommuting: Reduce your expensive commute by working from home. Right now, around 4.7 million Americans work from home at least half the week.
10. Electric Vehicles
Many studies show that electric cars are better for the environment. They give off fewer air pollutants and greenhouse gasses than diesel cars. They also don’t emit carbon dioxide. In fact, in one year, just one electric car can save around 1.5 million grams of CO2.
Is EV Insurance Cheaper?
Insurance for electric vehicles may be more costly than for regular cars because they are more expensive with complex parts, which are costly to repair. However, EV drivers enjoy savings long-term on fuel and maintenance. Plus, there are tax incentives for many EVs.
11. Throw Any Unwanted Items Away
The added weight of extra items can cause your engine to work much harder. Your car works more efficiently and uses less gas to go the same distance with a lighter load. Reducing your car’s weight by 20% results in a mileage boost of 8.4%. Some easy ways to reduce weight include clearing out your back seat and trunk and filling your gas tank halfway.
12. Don’t Waste Gas
If you’re waiting in your car for a bit, turn off your engine instead of idling your car, which uses more gas than restarting your car. Safe driving is safer for you and others on the road, and you save on gas.
How to Calculate How Much Fuel You're Using
You can calculate how much fuel your car is using by dividing mileage by gallons used to see how many miles you drive per gallon of gas. For example, if you drove 400 miles before refueling, and you filled your car up with 20 gallons of gas, your fuel consumption would be 20 miles per gallon (400 miles / 20 = 20 mpg).
Be Eco-friendly While Saving Money
Changing your habits to be more eco-friendly on the road can help improve your finances and the environment at the same time. The best way to go green is by driving safely and within speed limits, which will get you a good driver discount and a low insurance rate over time. It’s also important to make sure you aren’t paying too much for your car insurance. Shop around for car insurance with SmartFinancial by entering your zip code below to receive free car insurance quotes.