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Driving Tips For A Greener Planet

For those of us who are concerned about climate change, the effect our vehicles have on the environment is a major consideration.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are things you can do to minimize the greenhouse gases your vehicle pumps into the atmosphere, thus reducing your impact on the environment and your contribution to climate change.

First off, when you shop for a vehicle, whether it’s new or used, evaluate its fuel efficiency. That goes for auto rentals, as well. That’s an easy task, given that today’s crop of vehicles includes a plethora of clean, green, fuel-efficient models.  To research the miles per gallon averages of various vehicles, as well as their overall emissions levels, the EPA has a great online resource at FuelEconomy.gov.

New vehicles now have window stickers that have been updated to make finding fuel economy and emissions information easier for consumers to obtain. The labels detail environmental ratings for all new vehicles, including the new crop of all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids. The labels contain bar codes (called the QR Code) which you can scan to access additional information online, including personalized use cost and energy consumption estimates.

Driving smarter is another way you can increase your fuel economy and lower the amount of greenhouse gas emission your vehicle produces.  Smart driving tips include easing up on the brakes and accelerator, reducing the amount of time you spend idling, and removing unnecessary items from your trunk. If you don’t use your roof rack, remove it and you’ll increase your fuel economy. Only use four-wheel drive when you really need it and use your cruise control on the highway to help maintain a steady speed.

Having your vehicle tuned up on a regular basis is another plus for making your vehicle less harmful to the environment. Follow the maintenance schedule found in your owner’s manual.  Keeping your auto in good operating condition increases your miles per gallon, plus it gives you the added advantage of staving off breakdowns and avoiding costly repairs.

Tire pressure has an impact on fuel consumption, so check your vehicle’s tires often. Under-inflated tires reduce fuel economy, which results in more air pollution and greenhouse gas.  They also cause your tires to wear out more quickly. If you’re not sure of the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle, it’s usually listed on the glove box door, or on the driver’s-side door pillar.  Low rolling resistance tires increase gas mileage, so think about buying them when it’s time for new ones.

Use your vehicle less often.  Combine errands to limit driving. Take advantage of public transportation, and carpool whenever possible.  Walk or ride a bicycle, if you’re able.  The EPA says that not driving just two days a week will lower your greenhouse gas contribution by as much as two tons annually.

Renewable fuels such as E85 and biodiesel reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower our dependence on oil. E85 is made from 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. It’s used in Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs), which can use either straight gasoline or E85 as fuel. Many people don’t even know that they’re driving an FFV, so to find out, check the inside of your vehicle’s fuel door for an identification sticker, or look in your owner’s manual. Vehicles with diesel engines can use a biodiesel blend like B5, which is a cleaner diesel blend containing 5% biodiesel fuel.

Finally, consider buying a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, or an all-electric vehicle (EV), which is the best option for limiting your driving impact on the planet and lessening your contribution to climate change.