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10 ways to drive green

Drivers can develop driving habits that will yield big fuel savings with any car.
Drivers can develop driving habits that will yield big fuel savings with any car. - 123RF Stock Photo

It is not necessary to buy a new fuel-sipping car to drive green. You can develop driving habits that will yield huge savings at the pump – and for future generations – through reduced consumption and emissions. Here are 10 fuel-saving tips to help you drive green: 

1. Smooth and easy does it – Pretend there is an empty egg shell on the gas pedal and press down gradually and lightly. Make a game out of trying to use as little throttle and brake as possible to stay with the flow of traffic. Avoid jack rabbit starts. One second of wide-open throttle creates the same volume of carbon monoxide emissions as 20 minutes of normal driving. 

2. Stretch your vision – Look way down the road at the traffic scene. By knowing what is coming up, you can slow down well in advance, and avoid excessive use of the brakes and subsequent extra bursts of acceleration. In urban areas avoid accelerating too much, and then braking heavily if the next light is going to be red.

3. Shift early – If you have a manual transmission avoid revving the engine unnecessarily. Shift at the lowest point the engine can pull smoothly with only slight throttle application. 

4. Plan your route – Try to avoid congested areas and the related starts and stops. If possible, select a route that will allow you to maintain a steady speed, avoiding hills and high speeds. If you don’t have to drive during rush hour – do it at another time

5. Cruise – Use cruise control whenever possible. A smooth and steady speed requires less frequent and abrupt changes in throttle position, and therefore less fuel.

6. Combine trips – A little advanced planning will eliminate many last-second runs to the store. If you have some errands to run, do them all at the same time. Someone to pick up or drop off? Arrange those errands for the same time.

7. Watch where you park – In the summer try to find a shaded spot. The interior will not be as hot when you return so you will not need to run the air conditioning as long. If you can’t find shade use a reflector in the windshield to keep the sun out. In the winter use a garage if possible and a windshield cover to minimize frost build-up.

8. Avoid idling –  A car sitting still with the engine running is getting exactly zero miles per gallon or going no kilometres per litre. Shun drive-throughs, get out and walk into Tim’s. Use a scraper and some elbow grease to remove ice from the windows – instead of letting the defroster do the work for you. Stuck in traffic for more than 60 seconds – shut it off.

9. Fill her up – Be wary of spilling fuel, stop when the automatic nozzle clicks off. Gasoline fumes are both toxic and carcinogenic and evaporation from spilled fuel contributes to emissions. When you need to refill, make that stop during one of your planned trips rather than a separate run. Keep a mileage log, calculate your mileage at each fill. It will make you more aware of the costs – and savings involved.

10. Turn it off – Air conditioning, heated seats and other power-robbing devices use fuel either because they rely on the engine directly or that it is needed to recharge the battery. Shut these devices off as soon as possible.

And of course there is always the concept of walking. Your heart, health and loved ones will appreciate it – and the added bonus is that you are using absolutely no fuel and creating no environmental damage. 


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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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