I cannot afford a hybrid, smart car or ZENN at this time in my life despite how much I’d like to. I am quite envious of those that can make this significant environmental change in their lives but if you are like me you may have to settle for some other small changes to reduce your impact.
First of all, the only two cars I have ever owned were bought used. I like to think that this is environmentally sound in the fact that I am trying to use the car to its fullest before it is sent to a scrap yard somewhere. Along with this I pride myself in taking very good care of my car including regular tune-ups and check-ups. The EPA suggests maintaining your vehicle according to the instruction manual will increase your fuel efficiency and decrease your carbon emissions.
Like being tuned up regularly, it is a good idea to keep your car tidy. I am a bit of a neat freak anyway but a well-organized car is more important than you think. The fewer things you have in your car, the more fuel efficient it is because your vehicle doesn’t have to carry around as much weight and work as hard to get you where you’re going.
You may find it surprising that using a car wash is probably more sustainable than washing your car at home in the driveway. As About.com’s Larry West explains, commercial car washes limit amounts of water with special pumps, re-use water and treat water. When you wash your car at home you may use over a hundred gallons of water and the runoff that spills into your yard and sewers will likely contain gasoline, oil and detergents.
Once you have tuned up and cleaned up you can cruise around town with the windows down. Traveling with your windows open on shorter or slower trips is not only cool but it is much less energy intensive than using your air conditioning. Green Van Hire’s Economical Driving tips suggest using your air conditioning on long highway trips, however, will decrease the drag and be more energy efficient.
Finally, to pimp your ride to the extreme you must consider your driving methods. Hypermiling is a fairly recent approach to driving more skillfully and thus saving gasoline. To practice hypermiling you should record your gas mileage, focus on the driving rather than the person who tried to cut you off, decelerate and accelerate slowly. I have been experimenting with this as I travel back and forth to see my boyfriend. It is more challenging than I first expected but once you get the hang of it you can really save some gas and have a better mindset while driving.
Have fun cruising the green way!