EVs (electric vehicles), PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), PZEVs (partial zero emission vehicles), and the traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles, oh my!
With so many choices these days, buying a new, greener vehicle can feel like wading through alphabet soup.
And while shiny new cars with all their fuel saving features can be exciting, they can also be expensive — and unaffordable for many of us. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do regardless of what you drive to be a greener motorist. Read on for some proven strategies that will reduce your carbon impact while saving you money for that future green car purchase!
Accelerate and decelerate smoothly. Accelerating and decelerating smoothly make the best use of the vehicle’s engine and reduce wear and tear on the brakes. Rapid acceleration and braking can reduce gas mileage by 15-40%. To help improve your gas economy, anticipate when you will need to stop, then ease off the gas and coast in gear.
Drive 55. The EPA estimates a 10-15% improvement in gas mileage by driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph. Leave ample time to arrive at your destination and drive the posted speed limit — you’ll improve your chances of getting there safely while reducing your stress and fuel consumption.
Keep tires properly inflated. Inflating your vehicle’s tires to the pressure shown in your owner’s manual can help save you up to 3% on fuel. It can also help prevent irregular wear and tear on your tires and tire blowouts.
Avoid excess idling. Idling for 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine. Excess idling also causes more wear on your vehicle’s engine.
Remove heavy items that you don’t need from your vehicle. Removing excess weight helps improve vehicle efficiency by 1% or more.
Close the windows when driving at higher speeds. This helps reduce aerodynamic drag on the vehicle, which means less work for your car’s engine.
Keep your car in good repair and fix exhaust and oxygen sensor problems. Maintaining your vehicle in peak working condition will save you money in the long and short runs and will prolong the vehicle’s life. For example, fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.
Use sunshades in the summer and windshield ice covers in the winter. Sunshades keep the interior of your vehicle cooler, thus reducing how hard your AC has to work to cool things down. Windshield ice covers prevent buildup of snow and ice on your windshield and eliminate the need for idling to defrost your vehicle.
Open your windows (briefly) when you turn on the AC in the summer. Vehicle interiors tend to get very hot in the summer. Having the windows down and turning on the AC for the first few minutes of driving allows the hot air to escape and allows the AC to work faster. You can then put the windows up and enjoy your cool vehicle.
Combine errands into one trip. Combining errands reduces the total distance you have to drive and, by keeping the engine warm, ensures more efficient operation of your vehicle.
More things you can do
Consider alternative modes of transportation. With the weather warming up, try walking or biking to nearby places and taking public transit to more distant destinations.
Choose to carpool or telework. You’ll reduce wear and tear on your vehicle, save money, and reduce polluting emissions. Check with colleagues at work or neighbors to find potential carpool participants. Consider posting a request for carpoolers on neighborhood sharing site NextDoor58.com or using Metro Transit’s ridematching system.
Inquire at your workplace about teleworking. Increasing numbers of workplaces are allowing and even encouraging more telework opportunities as a way to increase worker satisfaction and reduce vehicle pollution and congestion.
Become a one-car household. Downsizing from two or more vehicles to one (or none!) may seem daunting at first. But many people have successfully and critically cut their expenses and their emissions by doing just that. Developments and improvements in car sharing, public transportation, biking, and more, make it easier than ever to live, work, and play without a vehicle.
Wash your vehicle at the car wash. The International Car Wash Association and the LA Times report that using a car wash is more environmentally friendly than hand washing. Washing a car by hand can mean using a steady stream of water. This approach can use 100 or more gallons of water verses 15-75 used by many commercial car washes.
Carwash businesses are required to send their dirty wash water to municipal wastewater plants for treatment. Some businesses reclaim it for reuse onsite. Water and contaminants from home vehicle washing, on the other hand, typically drain to stormwater sewers and right into rivers and other surface waters, where they pollute.
Find environmentally friendly auto body repair. Auto body shops emit pollution in the form of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are harmful to human health and a component of smog-producing ozone. There are several auto body shops across the state of Minnesota that have switched to less polluting technologies. There are auto body shops that have received grants from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the City of Minneapolis to adopt cleaner technologies.
Vehicles. The vehicle you drive and how you use it may have a greater effect on the environment than any other choice you make as a consumer.
Electric cars charge ahead! Have you been noticing more electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads these days? Do you wonder why people choose to drive them? Here are some things to know about this new technology.
Finding green(er) auto body repair. The auto body repair industry is among the top 10 sources of hazardous air pollutants in Minnesota. What can you do as a consumer to find greener options for your vehicle?
What is your commuting style? There are many ways to get to work. Which is the right fit for you? Use the MPCA’s handy guide to find out.