Here are six simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on gas.
This is a real pet peeve of ours. When you’re idling, you get zero miles per gallon. That’s right. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Turn your engine off if you think you’ll be going nowhere for at least 30 seconds. There are some obvious situations where you know you’ll be there for a while – waiting at a train intersection or a drawbridge. This also means waiting to pick someone up or sitting at a red light that you know will be a long one.
Most people don’t bother to check their tires on a regular basis. This is a gas mileage killer. Underinflated tires can cost you 1-2 mpg. Check your tires once a month; your owner’s manual will show you the recommended air pressure. Some cars even have a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or on the inside of the fuel door. Get a decent air pressure gauge or fill your tires with 100% nitrogen – it keeps the tires at the proper air pressure longer than regular air.
Accelerating or decelerating too fast can lower your fuel economy by as much as 33% on the highway and 5% in the city, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Don’t do a “jackrabbit” start when the light turns green. Use steady and smooth pressure on the gas pedal. Avoid heavy braking, anticipate upcoming red lights and coast to stop. Use cruise control when possible.
It’s that simple but hard for many of us. The sweet spot for fuel economy is between 40 and 60 mph. The faster you drive, the more energy is needed to overcome the aerodynamic drag, causing your gas mileage to decrease by about 5 mpg for every 10 mph you go over 60 mph.
An extra 100 pounds in your car can lower your fuel economy by 2%. Avoid a loaded roof rack. It can decrease your fuel economy by 5%.
This may seem obvious, but it’s something that a lot of people don’t do. If you know where you’re going, you can shave off several miles off your trip. Also, when it’s cold outside, combine several short trips into one because a cold engine will decrease your fuel economy.