The oil spill that has occurred in the Gulf this past April has hopefully caused all of us to look a little more closely at our behaviors and take action that will have a positive effect. The number one way each person can help out is reducing your use of oil by driving less and increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Of course, being summer time, driving less may be hard to do. Many of us drive to take the kids to summer camp, go on summer vacation, visit with family and friends and of course, drive to work every day. If you do need to drive, do so in an eco-friendly and fuel efficient way. Wildlife, and your wallet, will thank you.
Eco-Friendly Driving Tips
- Share the ride – Carpool with coworkers or other families and save money on tolls and gas while significantly lowering greenhouse gas emissions
- Combine trips – Instead of going out for every item or errand that you need as it comes up, combine trips and go on one, multi-errand trip. You’ll save gas, time and wear and tear on your car.
- Watch your speed – Driving at 50mph uses 30% less fuel than driving at 70mph. Maintain a constant speed while you are on the highway. Utilize cruise control if you have it. Studies have shown that aggressive driving (sharp acceleration, hard breaking, high speeds) reduces travel time only by 4%, but increases fuel consumption by up to 40%.
- Check your tires – Maintain the correct tire pressure. Driving with under inflated tires increases resistance against the road surface, thus making your car’s engine work harder and uses more fuel. It will also increase the wear and tear of your tire and affect the car’s handling, increasing the risk of an accident. Ideally, check your tires every week or two to ensure they are at the correct pressure.
- Lighten your load – Avoid hauling around excess weight or drag, such as luggage or golf clubs in your trunk. Doing so reduces your car’s fuel efficiency.
- Good oil – Check your oil level, and use the recommended grade of oil for your car. Using different motor oil can reduce your car’s efficiency by 2% but switching to the right grade will save you more than 10 gallons of gas annually. Look out for oil leaks and get them fixed immediately if you find one.
- Don’t be idle – Avoid idling your engine. If you’ll be stopped for more than a minute, it makes sense to turn off your engine. It will save on fuel.
- No more A/C – Lay off the A/C and use windows instead because using the A/C can increase fuel consumption by more than 20% in city driving. Unless it is stifling hot, roll down the windows or use your car’s flow through ventilation if you’re going at higher speeds.
- Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 lbs of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
To find out more about the oil spill and what the Zoo is doing to help, visit our website.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, by Joanna Yarrow