Sustainable living starts at home. That also includes reducing your carbon footprint through conscientious choices regarding your automobile. Modern vehicles cause extensive pollution due to excessive gasoline consumption, smog production, and dangerous chemicals released into the atmosphere. However, there are easy, smart changes you can make every day that will help you reduce your carbon emissions and drive green. With simple maintenance, increasing overall fuel efficiency, and some commonsense tips, you’ll be well on your way to sustainable vehicle ownership.
Here are ten proven ways to make your car more environmentally friendly no matter what you drive.
Routine Maintenance is Key
Regular car maintenance can reduce your vehicle’s carbon footprint and prevent larger mechanical issues down the road. It’s essential to regularly change your air filter (and invest in a reusable one if possible) to avoid reducing your engine’s output, swap out sparkplugs to avoid fuel waste from potential misfires, and maintain the radiator to boost your fuel economy. Regular maintenance can also increase fuel efficiency by as much as 4%.
Understand Tire Health
Keeping your tires properly inflated can reduce your fuel consumption. Underinflated tires do not roll as well as their properly inflated counterparts. This leads to reduced fuel-efficiency in your vehicles. Well-maintained tires also last longer, meaning you’ll have less waste in the long-term. Check your tire pressure once a month to ensure they are properly inflated and in good condition.
You may also be interested in eco-friendly tire options for your car. Fuel-efficient tires are designed to decrease rolling resistance, making it easier for tires to roll and increasing fuel efficiency. Many are also crafted from synthetic rubber blends that are more environmentally safe and designed with stiffer sidewalls and more efficient tread patterning.
Your Car Isn’t Your Closet
It’s time to clean out your trunk and those items in the backseat. The more your car weighs, the more fuel it uses. If you want to increase fuel efficiency, you should always make sure to clear your cargo area out as soon as possible. While the difference might be small, it adds up over the tens of thousands of miles you’ll drive over your car’s lifetime.
Practice Careful Driving Habits
Smart driving not only decreases the possibility of an accident but also decreases your environmental impact. Aggressive driving and excessive speeds reduce fuel efficiency. Research conducted by the U.S Department of Energy found that when a vehicle increases its speed above 65 MPH, every additional 5 MPH is the equivalent of adding an extra 10 cents per gallon of gasoline. You should also try to decrease the amount of time your car spends idling. When a vehicle is idling, it is still burning fuel. If possible, avoid driving during high traffic times, and don’t waste fuel warming up your vehicle before a trip. If you’d like a quick way to a more eco-friendly driver, simply switch on the cruise control. By maintaining a steady speed, you’ll cut back on revving the engine and wasting fuel.
Avoid Turning Left
As strange as it sounds, engineers have discovered that avoiding left turns can increase your fuel efficiency significantly. While it may add a little longer to your commute, it also increases your safety and decreases idling time in the car.
Try a Waterless Car Wash
With many states experiencing frequent drought or wildfires, decreasing your water consumption may be a necessity rather than a suggestion. Waterless car washes — also known as spray-on washes — are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional washing processes that produce the same results. Waterless car washes require as little as 4-6 ounces of cleaner and a few buckets of water per car. Compared to the 100+ gallons of water used at home or commercial car washes, this is a much more eco-friendly approach. You can find more information on waterless car washes on the Washos blog.
Ditch At-Home Washes
If you have to wash your car the old-fashioned way, take it to a commercial car wash instead of doing it at home. While it might seem like a green option to do-it-yourself, you may unintentionally be dumping polluted water right into the storm drains. Commercial car washes are required to drain their waste into the sewer system instead.
Switch to Synthetic (Oil)
Not only does synthetic oil reduce petroleum drilling from the ocean’s floor, but it’s also better for your vehicle. Synthetic motor oil lasts longer, it’s more chemically stable (which means it won’t release any additional chemicals into the air by breaking down), and it better lubricates and protects your car’s engine when compared to conventional oil. Many brands also have energy-conserving compounds that increase fuel efficiency while being better for the environment.
Go Green for Your Next Vehicle
The next time you look for a new vehicle, start your search by prioritizing fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Investing in a hybrid or electric car becomes more affordable with each passing year and will ultimately reduce overall emissions. Researching renewable fuels can give you a much better idea of how your vehicle’s emissions affect the environment. The EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide is a comprehensive starting point to explore eco-conscious options. You can also educate yourself on the best and worst cars for environmental impact.
Sometimes the tried-and-true method is the best. Even if you don’t have an electric car or a hybrid, you can make small changes that have a large cumulative effect. While automobiles do have a significant environmental impact, you can drive in an eco-conscious, environmentally friendly manner as much as possible. You can also combine errands whenever possible so you don’t waste gas returning home between trips. As you’ll soon discover by implementing some of these tips, saving the environment also means saving money long-term. Work towards small, attainable changes that you can continue consistently.
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