Save Gas Now

If you must drive, here are six tips to conserve

Paul Greenberg

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“Liquid Experiments -IV (Petrol)” by neilbetter is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/?ref=openverse

We drive too much. We invest too much money in our four million miles of roadways. 76 percent of Americans drive to work alone every working day. All told, commuting to work represents around 17 percent of all the CO2 emissions the United States generates. As the average price of gas hovers above $4.00 a gallon and the International Energy Agency warns us that war-driven gas shortages are going to hit us in the very near future. We need start conserving fuel. Right now.

45 percent of Americans have no access to public transportation at all. What is that huge slice of the American public to do right here and now?

Long term the best way to do this, is, of course, not to use our cars at all. Many in the alternative energy space express unbridled enthusiasm for a switch to electric vehicles. But as a recent study found, a bicycle-focused urban design policy would be 10 times more effective in bringing cities to net zero than switching existing cars over to electric vehicles. Public transportation and political advocacy for expanding trains and buses are also clear avenues we should all assiduously pursue.

All that being said, here and now, many, many Americans are stuck with their cars. 45 percent of Americans have no access to public transportation at all. Can that huge slice of the American public to something right now to save gas?

Yes.

Here are a few tips I pulled together for my book The Climate Diet:

  1. Correctly inflate your tires. According to the US Department of Energy this can improve your fuel efficiency by as much as 3 percent.
  2. Keep your car properly tuned up. For a seriously out of tuned engine a visit to the mechanic can save you 4 percent in fuel costs.
  3. Ensure that you are using your car maker’s recommended oil weight. This will get you another 2 percent in fuel savings.
  4. Stop idling. Engine idling accounts for 1.6 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions and, for the most part is completely unnecessary.
  5. Mellow out on the road. Aggressive accelerating and braking unnecessarily wastes gas.
  6. On that note, overall, slow down. Most vehicles start to lose efficiency after fifty miles per hour. Reducing your speed by 5 to 10 mph can improve fuel economy by 7–14 percent.

Is saving gas the most effective strategy long term for America’s future? Of course not. Eliminating the need for gas in the first place is where we need to go. But right now, everyone has to do something. The days of senseless gas guzzling have to end and these six things can be done today.

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Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet and Goodbye Phone, Hello World paulgreenberg.org