The strategy of getting the most distance out of your fuel
This is not an endorsement for driving.
As I say in “How to Effectively Fight Climate Change,” being carless is the best. However, the reality is most of us drive at least sometimes. I drive when I can’t (or really don’t want to) walk, bike, or take public transportation to get from A to B. But when you are behind the wheel, it’s best to be smart about it, right? Maximizing fuel efficiency is a win-win for your wallet and your carbon footprint. Just one gallon of fuel turns into 20 pounds of CO2.
By watching your speed, and accelerating and braking smoothly, you could save up to ~33% more gas according to the EPA. Using national averages, reducing fuel by 33% would save you about $450 a year and keep approximately 3,600 pounds of CO2 out of the atmosphere. This style of driving is generally less aggressive and safer as well. On average, cars are most efficient going 50 mph. To give you an idea, you’re paying an extra dollar per gallon going 80 mph compared to 50 mph.
Since learning this, I have made driving a bit of a game. (I put safety first though obviously!) I try to accelerate smoothly, brake infrequently, and coast often. I look way ahead for stoplights and try to time it so I don’t have to stop. On the highway, I stay as close to 60 mph as possible…so be nice to those slowpokes – it might be me!
Other tips: Idling is wasteful if it’s for more than 10 seconds, keep your tires pumped, clean out any heavy stuff lying around in your car, and carpooling rocks!
Ryan Hagen sees climate change as humanity’s biggest threat and writes to bring more sustainability into the world. He is the founder of Crowdsourcing Sustainability and writes an informative and uplifting sustainability newsletter every two weeks. This post was originally featured in that newsletter.
Read other content from the “Take Sustainable Action” section or see all sections of the What on EARTH?! sustainability newsletter.