Green Travel Saving You at the Pump
By Veronica Polivanaya
Gas is at record high for this time of year. Turmoil in Egypt, Libya and parts of the Mideast is to blame, sending gas prices upwards of $3 a gallon. In the long run, shrinking supplies, increasing demand and the possibility of new climate change regulations will result in higher oil prices.
But if an electric car is currently out of your budget, have no fear. KOMU’s 8 Goes Green is here to show you five simpler ways to save money on gas and reduce heavy draw on natural resources. And that’s not all: the more gas we save, the less pollution we create, and the less we rely on those who control the oil supply.
Take Public Transportation
According to the Illinois Public Research Group, the public transportation system in the United States saves 3.4 billion gallons of oil a year, eliminates 541 million hours of traffic delays and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 26 million tons. That comes out to nearly 222,000 barrels a day, which only amounts to slightly less than 2% of the total oil imported daily. Still, that’s 220,000 barrels per day that the U.S. wouldn’t have to import, burn and transform into pollution. Get in on the savings by hopping on a bus instead of driving your car. Sure, you still have to spend money on bus fare, but consider this: the average U.S. commute is 16 miles, and at today’s gas prices, the average passenger would spend $2.26 going that distance. That’s more or less what a typical public transit fare costs. Plus, you’ll spare your car from wear and tear, a hidden cost of driving that adds up.
If bus routes clash with your schedule, or don’t get you to where you need to be, try driving the car you own with greater fuel-efficiency. Experts say you can improve fuel economy 20% by reversing bad habits. Reversing bad driving habits and scheduling regular vehicle maintenance lessens the pollution your car produces by burning fossil fuel. That, in turn, means less smog, less asthma, less acid rain and contributes less to global warming. Here’s how: inflate your tires to the recommended level. Visit your mechanic for a tune-up if you’re due. Don’t forget to have your tires aligned, your air filter checked and your oil changed if needed. Another tip: when making trips, combine errands and get your groceries on your way home from work. When you’re on the road, drive smoothly, accelerate slowly and avoid speeding. Make sure to lay off the breaks as well. Riding with your foot on the brake pedal will not only wear out brake pads, amounting to extra costs at the maintenance shop, but can also increase gas consumption by as much as 35%.
Does the bus route miss your workplace entirely? Carpool and split the bill with a co-worker instead! That’s like paying $1.60 for gas that costs $3.20 at the pump. And the more, the merrier. With a car full of four people, the cost per gallon comes down to just $0.80! Want to reap the benefits of saving money, but don’t have anyone to carpool with? Consider joining Divide the Ride, eRideShare, RideCheck, Carpool World or other Web-based tools created to help like-minded commuters find each other.
Trade in Your SUV
If you must drive, replace your SUV with something more fuel-efficient. The most fuel-efficient car for several years in a row has been the hybrid Toyota Prius, averaging 50 mpg. New electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt get around 100 mpg. The least fuel-efficient cars, like SUVs, the Chevrolet Suburban and the GMC Yokun, get about 12 mpg. By swapping your gas-guzzler with an electric car, you could potentially save more than $3000 from your annual fuel bill. At current gas prices, the cost of an average commute in a Prius is $1, compared to about $4 in an SUV. At current gas prices, the cost of an average commute in a Prius is $1, compared to about $4 in an SUV. Meaning, you can go almost four times as far on a tank of gas in the Prius.
Walk, Bike or E-Bike
Whenever possible, walk or bike. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you. If the distance of your commute intimidates you, try an electric bike instead. With each mile you spend on foot, or on the saddle, you save gas and money, all while staying in shape. By trading in a trip in the average car, you’d save about $2 per average commute. You can spend that money on an umbrella for rainy days instead.