Green Tips for Getting Around Town: Alternative Fuels, Green Transportation, and Improving Fuel Efficiency
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Alternative Green Transportation
- Choose a home within walking or biking distance of work and stores whenever possible. You can enter an address into the Walk Score to determine the walkability of a neighborhood.
- Take the 2 Mile Challenge! In general, ride your bicycle or walk to stores and/or work whenever possible. Build these activities into your exercise routine.
- Take public transportation whenever possible. If you don't have a current public transit schedule for your area, locate one today (check online first) so that you are more likely to use it in the future. Also, plan a fun public transit trip with family or friends to get comfortable with the system.
- Planning a trip or vacation? The Get There Greener Guide provides great tips to lower your carbon footprint.
- Join a carpool. If your company doesn't coordinate carpooling, ask them to consider it or coordinate it yourself. If possible, coordinate carpooling with nearby businesses. Two ways to find carpooling opportunities: carpoolworld and craigslist (select your location and click on rideshare under the community section).
- Find out if car sharing will work for you. Find a car sharing organization near you.
- If feasible, encourage your children to walk or bike to school. If safety is an issue, consider creating a walking school bus with neighborhood families.
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Alternative Fuels and Improving Fuel Efficiency
- If you buy a new car, purchase a fuel efficient and low emission vehicle. Ideally purchase a vehicle using alternative, renewable fuel sources. Information sources:
- Determine how much you'll save by replacing your gas guzzler with a more fuel-efficient car.
- Edmunds.com tested out popular gas-saving tips and found the most effective:
- Slow down acceleration time (accelerate 0 to 60 mph in 15 seconds). Average improvement in fuel economy: 31% (highest: 37%)
- Drive the speed limit. Average savings: 12% (highest: 14%). In general, optimum miles per gallon are found at 35-45 mph.
- Use cruise control (unless driving in a mountainous area). Average savings: 7% (highest: 14%)
- Shut down car if idling for more than 1 minute. Savings up to 14%
- Keep tires inflated to recommended levels. Savings varied but, in general, gas mileage decreases by 1% per pound below recommended tire pressure.
- Turning off A/C and opening sunroof. Minimal savings, but could vary by vehicle. (Note: they found no difference if the A/C was turned off and the windows were rolled down because of the increased drag on the car).
- Refuel your vehicle during the evening hours to reduce the amount of pollution created.
- Combine errands and plan out the shortest route possible. The heaviest car emissions occur during the first two miles that a car is driven (while the engine is still cold). Whenever possible, walk or ride your bike.
- If buying a car, only purchase optional equipment if needed (especially heavy equipment that can lower fuel efficiency). Avoid the real gas guzzlers: automatic transmissions, larger, more powerful engines, power steering, air conditioning, and 4-wheel drive.
- Keep your tires inflated at the maximum recommended pressure(check once a month) and properly aligned (get your alignment checked every 5,000 miles)
- Purchase long-lasting, fuel-efficient Radial tires (vs. Bias or Belted tires)
- Keep up on your car maintenance, especially ignition timing, spark plugs and wiring, and idle speed setting (a poorly tuned car can loose up to 20% fuel efficiency)
- Watch your gas mileage for problems. Compare gas mileage for different brands of gasoline - some may give you better mileage.
- If you own more than one vehicle, try to use the one with the best gas mileage.
- Don't buy a higher octane gasoline than your engine needs (producing higher-octane fuels uses more crude oil than the lower octane gasolines, and may often involve use of toxic substances, which means the environment suffers). Consult your owner's manual for the right grade to use.
- Avoid quick starts and stops. In general, drive as smoothly as possible.
- Use cruise control to maintain a steady speed when possible.
- Keep windows shut at high speeds.
- Don't start your car until you are ready to drive off.
- If you drive a car with a manual transmission, upshift at the lowest speed possible to reduce fuel consumption.
- Use multi-grade, energy conserving (EC) motor oil to improve fuel efficiency 1-2% or buy re-refined oil to support recycling of oil. Purchase the lowest viscosity oil (i.e., "10 W 40") recommended by your car's owners manual. Check your vehicle's user manual to determine how often to change your oil (mechanics recommend every 3,000 miles, but many cars today can go longer without affecting engine wear). Recycle your used motor oil and oil filters at an approved collection center and sop up any spills with super-absorbent towels or kitty litter.
- Have your air conditioner serviced by a trained mechanic with access to a "vampire" machine, which recycles freon. These machines drain the coolant, purify it, and reinject it into the air conditioner. Fix leaks.
- Use antifreeze which does not contain ethylene glycol
- Avoid idling your car for more than 30 seconds.
- Avoid carrying unnecessary, heavy items around in your car. On trips, avoid using roof-racks, car-top packs or towing a trailer if at all possible. Every one hundred extra pounds in the vehicle increases the amount of gas used by four percent per mile.
- Use the overdrive feature if available.
- Keep the air and fuel filters clean.
- Also, to avoid polluting the groundwater with leaking fluids, periodically check for and fix any leaks.