With the cost of gasoline skyrocketing - now averaging over $4 per gallon, up an entire dollar from just one year ago - fuel economy is tops most consumers’ minds. Sales of hybrid and other fuel efficient cars are booming. Of course, it's not just about fuel economy - it's also about the environmental impact, too.
In fact, the most polluting daily activity by U. S. consumers is driving. And improving fuel economy by just 5 miles per gallon would save Americans 1.5 million barrels of oil per day.
To improve your green living efforts and reduce your impact on the environment, follow these simple tips to increase your fuel efficiency.
Tips to Increase Fuel Efficiency
- Avoid Excessive Idling: Allowing your car to idle for long periods of time, like while you're waiting for someone or warming up your vehicle during the cold winter months, not only wastes fuel, but also reduces the overall lifespan of your vehicle.
- Perform Regular Vehicle Maintenance: Keeping your engine properly tuned can improve your gas mileage by as much as 4%, according to FuelEconomy. gov. Not to mention that fixing faulty oxygen sensors can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 40%. Other fuel-saving vehicle maintenance includes:
- Regularly checking and replacing your air filter can increase fuel efficiency by 10%.
- Maintaining proper tire pressure and alignment is not only safer, but also it can increase fuel efficiency by 3.3%.
- Using the proper motor oil - the type recommended by your manufacturer - can increase fuel efficiency by 1%.
- Slow Down on the Highway: Driving fast may get you to your destination quicker, but it's terrible for fuel economy. For example, you'll lose about 2% in gas mileage for every mile per hour over 55. And in addition to lowering your overall mpg, driving fast wears out your tires faster due to the heat generated during higher driving speeds.
- Drive Gracefully: Fast acceleration and quick braking aren't just hard on your vehicle, they're bad for fuel efficiency. Driving smoothly will make your passengers happier - and save you about 2 miles gallon. Remember, just like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady will win the fuel economy race.
- Remove the Junk from Your Trunk: Another way to increase your fuel efficiency is to travel light. For every 50 pounds you drive around, you lose 0.25 mpg. Remove items you don't need to have in your car before making your daily commute, and you'll save a little bit of money - and every little bit helps!
- Plan Your Errands: Whenever possible, combine your errands and plan your route in advance, so you do less driving. You may not increase your fuel efficiency, but you'll reduce the environmental impact by using less gas.
Fuel Efficient Cars
In addition to following these tips for increasing fuel efficiency, you can always buy a car that gets good gas mileage. In addition to hybrids, electric cars and other automobiles that run on alternative fuels, there are plenty of gasoline cars that average 30 mpg or more.
According to FuelEconomy. gov, the top fuel efficient cars for 2008 are:
1) Toyota Prius (48 mpg city / 45 mpg highway)
2) Honda Civic Hybrid (40 mpg city / 45 mpg highway)
3) Toyota Corolla (28 mpg city / 37 mpg highway)
4) Toyota Yaris (29 mpg city / 45 mpg highway)*
5) MINI Cooper (26 mpg city / 35 mpg highway)*
6) Smart fortwo Convertible (33 mpg city / 41 mpg highway)
7) Ford Escape Hybrid FWD (34 mpg city / 30 mpg highway)
8) Mazda Tribute 2WD (34 mpg city / 30 mpg highway)
9) Mercury Mariner Hybrid FWD (34 mpg city / 30 mpg highway)
* Gas mileage is calculated based on automatic transmissions. Gas mileage in models with manual transmission is typically higher.
Green Living Beyond Fuel Efficient Cars
Remember, green driving is more than just increasing fuel efficiency. Before choosing a car to fit your green lifestyle, you should also consider the overall environmental impact created by building and driving your car.
As an example, the Prius gets some of the highest gas mileage ratings. However, nickel is used to produce the battery in the Prius. The environmental damage caused by mining, transporting the nickel to build the Prius results in a staggering statistic: Building and driving a Prius causes more overall environmental damage due to the nickel battery it uses than building a Hummer that is on the road three times longer.
You'll find plenty of information online at FuelEconomy.gov , from a specific vehicle's energy impact score, carbon footprint statistics and EPA air pollution score. And once you've chosen your vehicle, you can find the best auto insurance, as well plenty of driving safety tips, at Nationwide.com .