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How to Drive Greener (Carpooling to School)

Driving green is not only great for the environment; it also keeps your hard-earned money in your pocket instead of someone else’s. No matter what vehicle you drive changing the way you drive can result in huge savings you can better use for than blowing cash out your tailpipe. And it can add up too, faster than you might think.

Here’s a short video from AAA pointing out some key green driving tips:
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Learning to drive greener doesn’t mean you have to begin “hypermiling” like the craze those early buyers of hybrids epitomized. Rather, it’s can be achieved making less drastic and less aggravating changes to your driving style. For example, here are several measures for your consideration:
 

  • Get Your Vehicle Serviced Regularly — Maintaining your vehicle makes dollars and sense. It lovers the cost of everyday vehicle operation, helps prevent minor issues from escalating into more serious and costly auto repairs and avoids an inconvenient breakdown and stranding. For example, dirty oil is not only bad for your vehicle’s fuel economy and emissions, it contributes to performance-robbing carbon deposits on cylinder intake valves; the buildup of engine sludge, which diminishes power; and serious damage to expensive engine parts. In addition, incorrect tire inflation —under or over — can reduce fuel consumption by up to 3 percent, according to the Auto Care Association. And surprising to many, a dirty cabin air filter can rob up to 10 percent of your gas mileage.
  • Control Acceleration, Deceleration, and Coasting — By accelerating slowly and steadily to your cruising speed, your vehicle works more efficiently and economically. Quick accelerations and harsh braking do the opposite. Also, your vehicle creates more drag the faster it moves through the air; conversely, it encounters less resistance and uses less energy for the same amount of work. In many ways, it’s about maintaining momentum. For example, when you are approaching a red light, a let off the gas a little and coast to the stop instead of remaining accelerated and hitting the brakes when you get there. You not only save fuel, but your brakes last longer. And the light may turn green before you get there. Note that CNN Money advises that every 10 miles per hour you drive over 60 mph is like increasing the price of gasoline by 54 cents a gallon. A reduction of 10-20 mph in your regular highway speed can yield savings quickly.
  • Cruise Smart — Cruise control helps maintain a steady speed, but it isn’t always efficient doing so. For instance, when approaching a hill, left alone, it will slow when going uphill then kick the throttle to regain lost speed. Learn to anticipate the incline and drive more efficiently by slightly increasing the vehicle speed as required to climb the hill without a major loss of momentum. Likewise, learn to anticipate the need to decelerate and coast to a needed stop when necessary. Finally, when the roads you’re traveling are up and down a lot, or crowded, it may make sense to simply turn off the cruise control.
  •  Clear Out Your Trunk — According to Edmund.com, every 100 pounds of cargo you drive around within your car reduces your fuel economy on average between 1 and 2 percent. If you’re still carting around out-of-season ball gear, golf clubs, or camping equipment in your trunk, clear it out and save yourself cash each time you accelerate or brake.
  • Become Green Savvy — If you don’t need it, turn off the air conditioning. That alone, according to Consumer Reports can improve fuel economy by up to 10 percent. Also, a vehicle that moves through the air more efficiently takes less energy to push, and this translates to less fuel consumption. So remove roof and bike racks when offseason to reduce unnecessary drag and weight. And expand your car-pooling horizon. Many carpool to and from work, but consider carpooling children to and from school and weekday activities.
  • Plan Your Route — Often the most efficient route to drive somewhere may not be the shortest. Again, like smoothing momentum in the above points, consider the smoothest trip possible to avoid as much stop and go scenarios as you can. If you are doing multiple errands, consider driving the longest leg first, while the engine is cold. Then the warmed up vehicle can be used for the remaining shorter legs when it is more efficient stopping and restarting.

Following a few of these tips can make a surprisingly huge difference. Besides contributing to a healthier planet, you help to offset air pollution and smog for those with air quality sensitivities. Think of saving money as a bonus for doing the right thing.

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