Although the popularity of hybrid and low-MPG vehicles is gaining considerable momentum, not all of us can ditch the car we currently have in order to buy one. With the economy in the shape that it's in, many of us just don't have the financial means - or the desire - to take on a new car loan. Just because you're stuck with a less-than-Earth-friendly vehicle, though, doesn't mean that you can't make your own contribution to helping the environment when you drive. Below, we've highlighted a handful of the top green driving tips; by keeping them in mind, you can reduce the negative impact that your driving has on the environment.
When a light turns green, are you the kind of driver who puts the pedal to the metal? Do you tend to tack on an extra 5mph to the posted speed limit, no matter where you go - or whether you are late? Do you regularly slam your brakes, regardless of urgency? If you answered "yes" to one or more of these questions, then your driving style should be adjusted so that you waste less gas and practice green driving more effectively. By sticking to the posted speed limits, gradually arriving at your cruising speed and anticipating stops to encourage gentle braking, you can use a lot less gas - and, in the long run, help contribute to a greener Earth.
Keeping your car in tiptop condition through regular maintenance can help keep it as efficient as possible. Making sure that your car's oil is changed regularly, its air filters are reasonably clean and its spark plugs are fully operational can reduce the amount of gas it uses over the long term. Tire pressure is also key - keep those tires filled to the manufacturer's maximum recommended pressure level to optimize its performance and its fuel efficiency.
Short, frequent trips waste a lot more gas than longer ones. In other words, it's better to take care of all of your errands at one time, rather than returning home then going back out repeatedly throughout the day. Every time you have to start your car up and run it when it's not warmed up, you use a lot more gas - and expel a lot more exhaust and pollution. Each morning, make a list of everything that you need to do, then try and take care of everything at one time as often as possible.
Whether it's in a long line at a fast food restaurant drive-through or during a true traffic jam, letting your car idle needlessly wastes a lot of extra gas. Since that gas is being used for no real reason, it's especially wasteful. Make a point of going inside to pick up your lunch; turn your car off when you're in an especially bad traffic jam. All of those little things can add up to a large amount of gas saved over the long haul.
On especially windy days, your car's engine has to work a lot harder; in turn, it uses a lot more gas. Similarly, exceptionally steep or hilly terrain requires a lot more energy from your car and wastes a lot of gasoline. Even a seemingly innocuous gravel road can cause your vehicle to use more gas than it would on a paved road. Keeping all of this in mind, try to avoid driving in such conditions whenever possible.
The heavier your car is, the more gas it has to use to get around. Make a concerted effort to keep your car as empty as possible so that it requires less gas and doesn't have to work as hard. Only transport heavy items when absolutely necessary, and keep your trunk empty except for important things like the spare tire. When your car isn't bogged down by a lot of extraneous junk, it operates much more efficiently - and its much greener, too.
Whether at work or at your child's school, pay attention to other people and get to know them. If anybody lives near you, find out if they would like to carpool. Not only will this help you be a greener driver, but it will help both of you save money on gas. Every little bit helps when it comes to green driving, and sharing rides as often as possible is a really smart, easy way to make your own contribution to the health of the planet.