Although you could go out and buy a Prius (and believe me, I would like one), there are some things that you can do to make your existing ride a little bit more green and environmentally friendly for a lot less money. Of course, using a car sharing service or taking public transportation is the best way, but it is not always feasible. If you have anything you think should be on the list that I missed, please be sure to leave it in the comments!
1. Make sure your tires are properly inflated. And don’t try to lie to me, I know you have not checked lately – not many people have. The proper inflation should be on the sidewall of each tire, so it’s not something you have to remember. Even if you only do it once a month, you can save a lot of gas (and money) by making sure they are properly inflated.
2. Go the speed limit. I know it’s hard – it’s a constant battle for me as well. But by sticking close to the speed limit on the highway (normally 65), you can save a lot of gasoline
3. If you own an SUV but never go off-roading, do you need monster truck tires? Didn’t think so…next time you need new tires, get some regular tires without the big traction treads and save money and gas.
4. Open the windows. If you can live without it, try driving without the AC on. Using the heat does not use any more energy, but running the AC uses a lot more. So if it is OK outside, just try just opening the windows. Drag can sometimes be a factor, but on an older car, it is still more efficient than running the AC.
5. Get a tune up. Newer cars might not need them as often (our Mini doesn’t), but older cars usually need to be tuned up once in a while. Getting the car tuned up can improve MPG and save you money on future repairs.
6. When the weather is warm, refuel early or late. If you can avoid the direct heat of midday, you can help stop evaporative emissions being pushed out of your tank during the day.
7. You don’t need to warm up the car before driving it. Well, if your car is a newer model you don’t. Older cars do like to be warmed up before taking off in cold weather, but newer ones don’t need it. Just turn the key and drive away slowly until it warms up!
8. Get a K&N reusable air filter. When your air filter needs replacing, pick up a K&N (or equivalent) air filter that you can use for the life of the car. It just needs cleaning once in a while!
9. Try to use synthetic oil next time you get it changed. It only costs a few bucks more, but it helps your engine run smoother and more efficiently.
10. Avoid aggressive driving. Again, it can be difficult not to stomp on the gas when the light turns green, but really – do you need to be first to the next stop light?
11. Clean out the trunk. Are you carrying around extra weight in your rear? (That’s funny, no?) Empty out all your gear other than your spare tire and your emergency kit and stop dragging those extra pounds around – they use gas!
12. Don’t top it off. At the pump, we all have a tendency to try to squeeze out those last few drops to round up the next dollar. Well, the fumes that escape and the gas that drips out afterwards are not good for the environment!
13. Park in the shade when you can. If your car is cooler when you go to drive it, you don’t have to blast the AC right away.
14. Unless you drive a Ferrari, you probably don’t need premium gasoline. Seriously, look it up. Most newer model cars, even if it says that they need it, run fine on regular unleaded gas. I have never bought anything but regular unleaded for all my cars and I have never had a problem. Saves you some money, and could help make the air cleaner according to some studies.
15. Join a carpool. Have a co-worker that lives near you? Why not split the drive to work each week! You can drive Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week, and Tuesday and Thursday next week. Not only do you save wear and tear on your car and your wallet, but it takes one more car off the road on a daily basis.
16. Turn off the engine. If you are going to be sitting for more than 30 seconds (at a light, picking up a friend), turn the engine off. Why spend money to power a car that is not going anywhere…there is a reason the Prius turns off at stoplights!
17. Use your cruise-control. I get much better MPG on the highway when I use it rather than trying to stay a steady speed with my foot.
Want some crazier ideas? 🙂
18. Only drive with a tailwind.
19. Drive along the painted white line.
20. Put the top of your driveway at the top of a hill.
21. Park face out so you can skip going in reverse.
22. Draft behind a semi-truck. (Not for the feint of heart).
23. Turn off the engine down big hills. (You might want to leave the car on and only turn off the engine – you might need to steer).
24. Push your car out of your driveway in the morning.
25. Map a route without lights or stop signs.
So, how would you green up your existing car? Anything not listed here?
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