When it comes to making our planet a healthier place to live, we all want to do our part. Reducing the carbon footprint of the cars we drive is something every driver can do to make a positive impact on the environment. The key is being aware of the specific things we can do to make our cars run cleaner, and last longer, and put them into practice on an ongoing basis until they become routine. If you’re ready to turn your car into a greener machine, take a look at the top 10 habits of an eco-friendly driver.
1. Maintain properly inflated tires –
Making sure that tires are always inflated to the proper psi is an important habit for more eco-friendly driving. Proper inflation makes your car safer to drive. It can also cut your gas usage by as much as 3 percent. Plus, tires running at the proper psi last longer, which is good for your pocketbook and the environment, as new tires take a lot of energy to produce.
2. Keep the engine properly tuned –
Eco-friendly drivers keep their car’s engine properly tuned. Smooth running engines use less gas—up to 4 percent less—than engines left out of tune. They also make sure to change the oil at recommended intervals to make their engines last longer and get even better gas mileage.
3. Respect the speedometer –
Observing speed limits isn’t just about defensive driving. It’s about helping the environment by using less gas. Keeping a lighter foot on the accelerator can dramatically increase your gas mileage, meaning less frequent stops at the pump.
4. Plan out gas saving trips –
Although it’s easy and convenient to just get in your car and head down the road, planning even short trips around town can help you save fuel and reduce wear and tear on your car. If you have several errands to run, save gas and time by combining them into one trip and map out your route to avoid driving farther than you need to.
5. Use the cruise control –
Cruise controls on today’s cars can make long trips on the highway more comfortable and enjoyable. Through maintaining your car at a constant speed, cruise control also helps the environment by cutting down on gas consumption. When using cruise control is impractical, be sure to use overdrive gears to save on your breaks, save gas, and reduce wear and tear on the engine.
6. Carpool –
Carpooling and ridesharing with others is a great way to reduce the environmental impact of automobiles, as it assures that fewer cars are on the road. In addition, sharing the commute cuts down on fuel costs, reduces wear on cars, and can shorten commute times by enabling carpoolers to use HOV lanes in congested traffic.
7. Walk or take public transportation –
Busses and commuter trains run regardless of how many passengers they carry. So why not make public transportation more efficient by becoming a passenger? And if you want to be as eco-friendly as possible—along with improving your all around health—try walking to your destination once in awhile.
8. Rearrange your work schedule –
If your job offers flexibility with your work schedule, try staggering your work hours to avoid rush hours. Instead of idling in bumper-to- bumper traffic, you’ll arrive to work on time with less stress and more gas in your tank. Better still, if your workplace permits it, try looking into telecommuting to see if you can work at least part of the time from home.
9. Lighten the load –
Cars come in handy for transporting things around, but carrying around heavy cargo unnecessarily can put an extra 1-2 percent drain on the gas tank. Also, try to avoid carrying items on the roof rack, as the extra drag can cut your gas mileage by as much as 5 percent.
10. Drive a gas-saving car –
When eco-friendly drivers rent cars they opt for vehicles that get the best gas mileage. The same holds true when buying a new car. Although an electric car may not yet be practical for your needs, with so many advanced hybrid models now available you’ll be able to find a car that suits your needs and driving style—while getting great gas mileage and contributing fewer emissions to the environment.
Sladen West is a freelance writer dedicated to helping others stay safe through auto safety and defensive driving courses.