Thursday, 31 July 2008

Saving Gas - Not Just For Tree-Huggers

Article (my comments follow):
"Greenies aren't the only ones looking to limit their car usage these days. High gas prices are fueling inflation for everyone across America. No matter if you drive a Prius or a Hummer, you can probably stand to save a few bucks on gas right now. Here is our collection of tips for getting the most out of each gallon...

Use the cruise, clean the car: Forecast Earth covers the classic tricks, such as using cruise control and maintaining your car. This is a great list to begin with.

Hypermile your way to better mpg: Pulse-and-glide driving is how those ultra-efficient hypermilers get great mileage, even without a hybrid car.

Carpool at least once a week: Ask around your office and see whose route meets up with yours. Parents can also arrange carpools for driving kids to school. Alternate who drives, and you'll automatically cut gas costs.

Drive slower: Driving just 10 miles slower can reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent. And no, you won't burn more gas because it takes a tiny bit longer to get to your destination.

Don't sit idle: When you let your car idle, you might as well light a dollar bill on fire and toss it out the window. It's been proven that stopping and restarting a car uses the same gas as leaving a car idling for 6 seconds with the air conditioner on. Today's fuel-injected cars don't need to warm up in cold weather either.

Reduce air drag: The Rocky Mountain Institute estimates you can save 15 to 30 gallons of gas per year if you take off a roof rack just half the time. Besides, you only need it for skis when there's actually snow on the ground.

Ditch the drive-thru: One test in Toronto found that you can get a fast-food breakfast faster and burn less gas in your car if you park and go into the restaurant. Considering how much idling cars do in drive-thru lanes, this isn't surprising.

Think big, and light: Some of EcoGeek's gas-saving tips are government-based (like intelligent traffic lights and minimum fuel economy; feel free to suggest these to your local and federal representatives!). But everyone can carry less junk in the trunk.

Gas prices may not drop dramatically any time soon. So perhaps you're thinking about a new car -- like a hybrid. They've lost the tree-hugger status and are pretty mainstream. Certainly, SUVs aren't selling very well these days. Need some car advice?

Rethinking the cost of hybrid cars: The Rocky Mountain Institute compares the Prius to the non-hybrid Accord and Civic and shows how the hybrid comes out ahead.
Comparing hybrid to hybrid: EcoGeek summarizes the latest findings.
Getting to know your Prius: A few handy resources for the new owner.
Finding the best green cars: Yahoo! Autos Green Center is fully loaded with specs on current models, from hybrid to ethanol to ultra-efficient gasoline.

If you have an older car with great mpg and you're wondering if your ride could be even more eco-friendly, check out EcoGeek's analysis of the greenest cars coming in 2010. Just don't fall for a ZAP car or that bunk about running cars with water."
I like some of this and apparently I'm already doing my part. I don't pick up the kids. I definitely don't idle in fast-food drive-through lanes. I have an excellent vehicle when it comes to mileage. I don't have any kind of extra drag, like the spoiler that sticks up a yard in the air (one of the stupider looks on modern cars) and no roof rack.
Pulse and glide driving sounds interesting. I do that when I can out of habit... although I can tell you that almost none of these tips work on the 14,000lb terror that is the ambulance. And I'm not going to that slower!
I hate the idea of driving 60mph instead of 70, and not only because I like the feeling of going fast, but because it is safer on the whole to drive around the same general speed of traffic. When you are the slowest vehicle on the road, you are more likely to be tailgated and cut off by the crazies. And this is New Jersey - home of the road-rage crazies!
My husband and I did all kinds of math around three or four years ago regarding the benefits versus cost of the greener vehicle, such as the Prius. I also watched Penn & Teller's episode of Bullshit! regarding the eco-friendly cars versus the more prevalent gas engines and they didn't endorse the hybrid vehicles. The weight of the vehicle offset some of the savings and the size is no good for anyone with a family. (That is a non-issue for me, but not for others.) Now, however, the math may work differently due to the fact that gas is more than twice the price it was then.
Starting the engine every time I am at a stop light is nuts. It may save, but it will add to the time I can move and until you have experienced New Jersey driving, you don't know what a detrement that is! Sounds like a cop-out, and maybe it is, but "patience" is not a common word here. I think my driving is already far and beyond most just because I don't ride my brakes, tailgate or play musical lanes.
We'll see.

1 comment:

CrystalChick said...

YIKES, I have got to get the craft tent out of my trunk asap. It's very heavy.
You are so right about New Jersey driving. Doing an average speed or less is just as dangerous. People are crazy here! ;)
And the traffic gets so bad if you don't just make your way thru it quick, i.e. getting to the left lane quickly, you're sitting in horrific traffic which isn't going to save $$ either.