Driving Green in Today’s Environment

With skyrocketing gasoline prices being what they are, the hazards of global warming, and the public’s concern about foreign oil, more and more automakers are offering electric, hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles. While purchasing a green vehicle is a great start toward reducing the environmental impacts of driving. Of course, the vehicle you drive is the most important factor, but your driving habits and how well you maintain your vehicle will also impact the environment in a positive or negative way.

A Green house Gas (GSG) is any gas that, when released into the atmosphere, traps infrared radiation (heat) and causes a slow heating of the planet. The most common GHGs are: carbon dioxide (CO 2 ), methane (CH 4 ), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and nitrous oxides (N 2 0). CO 2 makes up about 70 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, which is why many vehicles produce several times their weight in greenhouse gases each year. In fact, most of the fuel you put in your gas tank becomes GHG emissions!

Let’s face it – owning a car is a necessity in today’s world, so what kind of actions can you take to help you “drive green”?

In hot weather, park in the shade when possible and open doors and windows to cool the car off before you turn on the air conditioning. Window shades also help cut down on heat and sun damage. Use of AC increases fuel consumption, and involves using fluids that are potentially harmful to the environment.

Avoid driving in rush hour traffic. Start and stop driving increases emissions of smog-forming pollutants.

Go easy on the brakes and the accelerator. Jack-rabbit starts result in wasted fuel and releases more pollutants into the environment. Let your vehicle coast to a stop as much as possible and save wear and tear on your brakes.

Obey the speed limit. If you drive 65 mph instead of 55 mph, you will lower your fuel economy by almost 10 percent, and increase exhaust pollution output.

Instead of taking separate trips, combine them as much as possible. An engine that is already warm generates far less air pollution. Catalytic converters only work well when the exhaust has warmed them to a certain temperature. If you cold-start your vehicle and drive just two miles, the emissions are much higher than driving an additional two miles to stop at the grocery after your usual evening commute. Combining several short trips into one can make a big difference when it comes to driving green.

Use your tire gauge! Properly inflated tires are a must. Fuel economy decreases by about two percent per every three pounds below the recommended pressure. Check the air pressure regularly; especially before going on a long trip. Your tires will last longer, too.

A tune-up can have a substantial impact on your fuel economy. Check fluids, spark plugs, and the air filter. Change the oil (to go even greener, ask for recycled oil) and replace worn belts. Rotate the tires and have your wheels aligned for even tire wear.

Avoid topping off the gas tank after the automatic nozzle shuts off. Spilled gasoline is carcinogenic to breathe, evaporates into the atmosphere, and can leak into the ground, pollute the water, and poison wildlife.

Save on fuel and decrease pollution by biking or participating in a car or van pool to get to work, and share rides to and from the kids’ activities.

By following these simple tips and guidelines, you can do your part to offset global warming and help the environment. Go green!