Alright, I admit it, I’m a soccer mom, and I drive an SUV. Whew, it feels good to have admitted that. In today’s climate-change and green tech world, driving a giant car isn’t exactly in vogue. There are a few things that stand in the way of me getting rid of my SUV, though. For one, I’ve got three growing kids and a new infant to cart around, and two, in today’s economy, my husband and I aren’t in a great financial situation to sell our current 2007 Suburban and refinance to get a more earth-friendly car. But, while I’m not ready to part with the Suburban, that doesn’t mean I can’t take steps to make it more eco-friendly. And, the easy green modifications will also save me some green (money, that is) in the long run. Here’s how I did it.
My Suburban was due for new tires, so I looked around at my options and discovered Michelin green tires. How can a tire be green? Well, the less resistant a tire is, the easier it rolls across the road and the better fuel efficiency your car will get. And, as you know, more miles per gallon is better for both mother earth and your pocketbook.
The second thing I did was get my SUV’s oil changed from conventional oil to synthetic, as well as getting the rest of its fluids and filters changed. Synthetic oils are slippy-er than conventional oils, and reduce friction in your engine. Changing the oil, filters, and fluids results in a more well-tuned car and can increase fuel efficiency by up to 14%, depending on the make of your car.
All in all, the simple changes I made took my Suburban’s gas mileage from a sub-par 17 mpg to around 21-22 mpg. That might not sound like much at first, but it’s nearly a 24% increase in efficiency for my gas-guzzler. Not bad for the minimal effort and time I put in. But, while my newly greened Suburban is definitely better for our air, will it actually save me money?
Since my tires needed replacing anyway, the energy-saving benefits of the green tires were essentially free. The green tires might not be the cheapest on the market, but they’re durable and long-lasting, and a good buy if you’re in the market for new tires. For the oil, synthetic is a bit more expensive and can run at about $7 per quart versus $4 per quart for conventional. Since a change takes about 6 quarts, that’s $18 extra dollars you’re spending for the more efficient oil. The cost of the rest of the tune-up ran me about $100 and can be anywhere between $75-150 depending on your car. So, the total greening of my car cost $118 dollars.
Now, let’s work out how much I’ve saved by taking the gas mileage from 17 mpg to 22. I drive about 15,000 miles a year, as much as the average American. With gas at the national average of $2.70 a gallon, that means I spent $2,382 on fuel in the last year. At 22 mpg, that will drop to $1,841 for the next year. Minus the $118 I spent on the improvements, I’ll still save $423. I don’t know about you, but for me, every dollar counts right now, so these savings are a big plus. And, while I’m still stuck with my big SUV, now it’s a little softer on the environment. Sounds like a win-win to me.