Think green, drive green
Spring is my favourite season of them all. I enjoy seeing how the leaves begin to turn green again. And with spring coming fast and everything waiting to turn green, I ask this question; do you drive green as well? I’m not asking if your vehicle is green. I’m asking if you think of the environment while you’re driving. Reducing carbon emissions is a big item of discussion across our society, so what are your plans for doing your part to save our planet?
Part of being a green driver is mechanical. Ensuring your vehicle is in top mechanical condition helps reduce harmful emissions. For example, worn-out brakes that grab and don’t release all the way when you release your foot from the pedal mean you’ll need to press the gas a little harder to drive at higher speeds. This makes the engine work harder and thus, burns more fuel. Oil, air and fuel filters reduce the flow of oil, air and fuel if they’re clogged. This can increase fuel consumption by up to 10%. Proper maintenance can help save you fuel, save you money and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) – one of the greenhouse gases – from going into the atmosphere.
A poorly tuned vehicle can increase fuel consumption by as much as 50%. I’ve heard many people say they can’t afford a tune up for their vehicle. The money spent on the tune-up is actually less than what they would spend on fuel. Plus, the preventive maintenance may help reduce costly maintenance in later years. Always check your owner’s manual to find out what needs your vehicle has before doing any maintenance. Doing proper maintenance will save money, save fuel, save harmful emissions, save frustration.
Other ways to go green this year is how you drive. Driving at 120 km/h on the freeway versus 100 km/h will cause the vehicle to use up 20% more fuel and also cause unnecessary CO2 gases going into the atmosphere. Aggressive driving, which I witness so often each day, can increase your fuel consumption by as much as 39%. This is when you accelerate quickly when the light turns green but also when you brake harsh and late. This isn’t good for your vehicle, your wallet and your stress level. So why do it? It will roughly save you 2.5 minutes for every hour you’re driving. Really? You think that’s worth it? Keep a steady speed whenever you can.
I’ve spoken of idling your vehicle before and the evils of it, including theft of your vehicle. But idling your engine longer than 10 seconds uses up more fuel than it takes to restart the engine if your engine is at the proper running temperature. Your vehicle warms up better while you drive it; especially for the first 5 kms or until the temperature gauge begins to rise to its normal level. In very cold temperatures, such as -20°C and colder, using a block heater on a timer will help warm the engine up sooner.
In the warmer weather, avoid using the air conditioning often. Try using the air vents or perhaps open the windows slightly at slower speeds. Air conditioning uses up more fuel as it makes the engine work harder, so save the A/C for faster speed roadways like the freeway. Opening a window on the freeway can create a drag effect. Using the A/C at those speeds would be acceptable.
Another way to help you save fuel and drive green is your vehicle itself. Reducing the additional weight your vehicle carries can save up to 6% of your fuel. Get rid of those items in your trunk that you no longer need. This would include that big hockey bag, big bag of baseball equipment, or even camping equipment after you’ve come home from camping. They all add additional weight that makes the engine work harder each time you accelerate.
Driving a 4 wheel drive vehicle and an all-wheel drive vehicle uses up more fuel as well. It adds weight to the drive train, which reduces fuel efficiency. If you don’t need that extra power to the wheels, avoid driving those types of vehicles. And of course, smaller engines use less fuel than larger engines. Keep this in mind the next time you’re searching for another vehicle.
We need to come up with other ways to reduce harmful emissions and wasted fuel. Other than what has been mentioned earlier, you could car pool. Finding a ride with someone else who is also going to the same place can save fuel and money. You could take alternative transportation such as public transportation, ride your bike or even walk. This is a huge savings since your vehicle is parked.
Plan your trips so you reduce the number of separate trips you need to accomplish your errands. This would also include avoiding rush hour if you can. These can all help you reduce fuel, save you time, increase financial savings and reduce emissions from your vehicle. Check your tire pressure once a month with what’s written on the inside of your door jam or on the inside of your fuel door. A poorly inflated tire can lose up to 15,000 kms from its lifespan. It can also increase fuel consumption by up to 4%.
I’m sure you’ve all tried at least some of these methods with your driving. If you start to implement some of these other changes to your driving, perhaps your family or friends will become green with envy.