We all have a responsibility to consider the way our driving practices affect air quality and public health. Practicing responsible eco-driving habits not only keeps our roads safer, but keeps our pockets fuller and our communities healthier. The way we purchase, drive, and maintain our vehicles is an integral part of our daily lives, and has an incredible impact on our futures, both economically and environmentally. These eco-driving tips and facts will help to keep all of us traveling in the right direction

Tips for your Car

By practicing smart Eco-Driving habits, you can reduce the amount of petroleum you consume, improve air quality in your area, and help improve the economy in Michigan.

You can improve Taking simple steps to take care of your car can make a world of difference.

Below is a list of quick and easy tips you can use today:

  • Use low rolling resistance tires.
  • Keep tires at proper tire pressure.
  • Keep your vehicle light by removing excess cargo from the trunk, and storing things on the roof as little as possible- it creates drag that reduces fuel economy by up to 25%.
  • Use your AC as little as possible
  • It takes more energy to cool a hot car than it does to cool a medium-sized home in Atlanta, Georgia during the summer!
  • The AC consumes nearly a gallon of gas per tankful to keep you cool.
  • When you’re driving in summer, close the windows and turn on the fresh air vents. At speeds over 40 mph, the drag caused by open windows eats up more gas than a working air conditioner.
  • Get fuel when it’s cool. Refueling during cooler periods of the day or in the evening generates fewer polluting hydrocarbon vapors.
  • You can lose up to 30 gallons of gas per year due to evaporation by not tightening your gas cap properly.
  • Use good quality, energy-conserving (EC) oils with a viscosity grade consistent with the owner’s manual. Buy cans marked with the symbol ECII, which is the American Society of Testing Materials logo for fuel-efficient oils.

Tips for Your Driving Habits

Because so many of us spend so much time in our cars, simply changing a few of our habits can go far to reduce our dependence on petroleum, improve air quality, and public health. Being cognizant of your driving habits, and changing the way you move can do a world of difference.

Below is a list of quick and easy tips you can use today:

  • Consider the way you drive – gentle acceleration and braking can yeild up to 33% better gas mileage.
  • Aim to maintain constant traveling speed.
  • It takes 20% less gas to accelerate from 5 mph than from a full stop.
  • Maintaining a safe following distance helps reduce the need for stop-and-go driving
  • Driving slowly pays off – gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 55 mph.
  • Combine errands in one trip – “trip chaining” saves gas in addition to cutting emissions from eliminating numerous trips. By trip chaining you will avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel. You’ll save wear and tear on your car, reducing potential maintenance costs, and save time.
  • Cruise control is ideal at highway speeds, saving fuel by reducing excess gas pedal activity.

Idle Reduction

The term “idle reduction” is typically used to describe technologies and practices that reduce the amount of time vehicles idle their engines. Light, medium, and heavy duty vehicles, school buses, and passenger vehicles can benefit from idle reduction, as reducing idle time saves fuel, engine wear, and money while reducing emissions and noise.
Here are some tips you can use in your every day driving practices to help decrease your idling time:

  • Don’t idle for more than 30 seconds.
  • Your vehicle only needs a few seconds to warm up to allow oil to cycle through the engine, the best way to do this is to drive the vehicle. Excessive idling can damage your engine components, including cylinders, spark plugs, and exhaust systems.
  • Idling can consume as much as one gallon of gas per hour. Idling also wastes more fuel than restarting the engine.
  • Avoid overuse of remote starters, which increase idle time.
  • Walk into stores rather than waiting in drive-thru lines.
  • Turn off your car when waiting for trains or picking up kids from activities.

Alternative Fuels

Alternative fuels help to reduce our dependence on imported oil by either mixing or creating new sources of energy made from renewable, domestic resources rather than the finite fossil fuels that have been used previously. These include:

Biodiesel: Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel, produced from domestic, renewable resources – such as plants or used cooking oil from restaurants, which are processed and blended with petroleum based diesel. Biodiesel blends up to 20% are generally safe for any diesel engine.

Ethanol (E85): Ethanol is an alcohol that is blended with gasoline – resulting in a cleaner-burning fuel with higher octane. E85 is a blend of 85% ethanol – 15% petroleum gasoline. Ethanol can be made from grains such as sorghum as well as “biomass” sources such as corn cobs, cornstalks, wheat straw, rice straw, switchgrass, vegetable and forestry waste, and other organic matter. Feed corn is currently the primary source for ethanol production, but advanced ethanol will be made from trash and non-feed crops.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Propane): Propane, or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is a cleaner burning fossil fuel that can be used to power internal combustion engines. Propane is produced as a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining. In the United States there are more than 270,000 on-road propane vehicles and more than 10 million worldwide.
Compressed Natural Gas: Natural gas is a mixture of hydrocarbons, predominantly methane (CH4). Natural gas has a high octane rating and excellent properties for spark-ignited internal combustion engines. Natural gas accounts for approximately one quarter of the energy used in the United States and worldwide, there were more than 7 million vehicles that use compressed natural gas on the roads as of 2008.

Hydrogen: Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen is rarely found alone in nature. It is usually bonded with other elements. Hydrogen can be used to fuel internal combustion engines and fuel cells, both of which can power low or zero-emission vehicles. Major research and development efforts are aimed at making hydrogen vehicles practical for widespread use.