5 Tips for Making Your Car a Little Bit Greener

Did you know that the average American commuter in heavy traffic cities languishes 62 hours a year in rush-hour traffic? That’s the equivalent of more than a week and a half, if measured by a 40-hour work week. The result of that grueling daily commute averages out to about six tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the air per year for just one car. That doesn’t even include the four tons of carbon released into the air when manufacturing a single car. It’s the collective bane of our existence.

Traffic accounts for nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gases, which are a major contributor to climate change. What is a commuter to do? In a world where it seems like one person can’t make a difference, you actually can reduce your own carbon footprint. With a Tesla price tag hovering around the $100,000 mark, a highway-capable electric Roadster may not be in your immediate future, but you can make your car a little bit greener with these Earth-conscious tips.

  • Buy Hybrids and Alternative Fuel Vehicles. Even if a Tesla isn’t in the cards for you, there are some other excellent choices when a new car is in your budget. CheatSheet just announced the six cheapest 2016 hybrid cars, with Toyota Prius C topping the list. You can get their brand new 2016 model for under $20,000. Car and Driver picks Chevy Volt as its top choice for a hybrid. These cars get decidedly better mileage than regular gas or diesel cars, and you not only get the benefits of money-saving gas mileage, but cleaner emissions, too.

Among electric cars, Car and Driver lists the Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen e-Golf as their favorites. If you’re looking for a highway-capable electric car that is also more affordable than any car in recent memory, wait for the Elio. Not only does it get 84 mpg, but the base price for the new car is $7,300. No matter which way you go, hybrid or electric, you will be lowering your personal carbon footprint.

  • Offset Your Carbon Emissions. Carbon Footprint website is designed to help you get your carbon emissions to zero. You start by calculating your initial carbon footprint, which is establishing a baseline for emissions in your current lifestyle. The next step is to reduce your emissions wherever possible, whether buying a low emission vehicle or changing the settings on your home heating and air conditioning. There are dozens of ideas on the website, including ways to reduce your secondary carbon footprint by changing your consumer habits.

Because it’s nearly impossible to reduce your own carbon footprint to zero, offsetting the rest to achieve carbon neutrality is key to making real environmental change. When you’ve gone as low as you can go in reducing your carbon emissions, offset the rest by buying offsetting projects. For example, if you have 6 tons of carbon emissions after you have reduced all you can, then you can offset them with various projects, like donating to a tree planting program or a community project.

  • Abandon Your Car-Centric Lifestyle. Can you imagine living without your car? For some people, this idea is a welcome change, but others envision a nightmarish future. impossibility. If yoIf you’re open to selling or garaging your car in favor of a more environmentally-friendly means of transportation, this could make a big impact on your personal carbon footprint. Ease into it with an electric bike or scooter. Try a traditional bike with storage accessories, or even a cargo bike where you can give multiple people a lift. Of course, there’s always roller blading, skateboarding, riding a Segway, or even walking, when the opportunity presents itself.

Other ways to make living car-free a possibility are to embrace public transportation or to participate in a ride share. Many cities are moving to low-emission vehicles for their public transit offerings, but whenever you share rides via carpools, metrolinks, buses, or other means, you’re lowering your carbon emissions. Moving closer to work or working from home would make a big environmental impact, and get a week and a half of your life back each year, too. Green it, or leave it. Not using your car is a great way to green it.

  • Maintain Your Current Car. Maybe buying a new hybrid or electric car is out of the question, and your circumstances don’t make sense for going car-free just yet, but there are still plenty of ways to reduce your personal carbon emissions. Maintaining your current car for tip-top performance is one way to keep emissions low. You may be surprised by all the ways you can green your car.

Make sure your fuel injectors are in good repair. Flush them every 30,000 miles to clean them, or, if need be, replace them; it will markedly improve your fuel economy and lower your emissions. Keeping your entire emissions system maintained is one of the best ways to lower your environmental impact. Even replacing a faulty oxygen sensor in your emissions system can improve your fuel efficiency by a whopping 40%.

Other maintenance items include keeping your tires filled to the recommended pressure, regularly changing your car’s air filter, checking spark plugs, and getting a tune-up for iityour vehicle. Anit. Another tip is to reduce unnecessary weight: Empty out that trunk!

  • Drive Smarter, Not Farther. Organize your errands by location, and limit the miles you have to drive each day to get life’s little details accomplished. Use an onboard navigation system to avoid driving around unnecessarily because you’re lost. Limit the use of your air conditioning system, which is a huge drag on fuel efficiency. Roll those windows down, instead. Refrain from speeding around or driving recklessly, both of which also diminish fuel efficiency.

Park your car in the shade during summer to avoid having to turn on the air conditioning, and garage your car during winter to avoid long idling times warming a cold engine. Use the cruise control on the open road to conserve fuel, and drive at posted speed limits for the best fuel economy.

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