Green Tips for Your Summer Road Trip
Wilkinson in California with a
pre-production Nissan GT-R
Do you really love a good road trip but feel overwhelmed by green guilt? Stop worrying and get in the car. That's right, I said it: Go ahead and drive. Why? Driving to a nearby domestic destination is far more ecological than flying across the ocean (not to mention you'll be better off spending dollars than euros).
I was thrilled to learn this tidbit in You Can Prevent Global Warming (and Save Money!), which was updated and reissued yesterday, in honor of Earth Day. Co-authors Jeffrey Langholz and Kelly Turner write, "You'll emit less carbon dioxide [driving] than you would by flying, no matter how long or short your flight is."
Now that you can start planning that summer road trip, read on for a few more tips that will help lower your gas budget, courtesy of Langholz and Turner.
Slow and steady wins the race. You'll lower your car's fuel consumption 15 percent just by driving 55 mph instead of 65. The whole point of the trip is to see the scenery anyway, right? Go easy on the brakes, too (safely, of course). Every time you brake, you use more gas to get back up to speed, so stay a good distance back from the car ahead of you and brake gently if you start to see traffic ahead. (For these reasons, cruise control is very efficient too.)
Don't idle. If you're stopping for more than 20 seconds, turn off the car. That'll use less gas than idling.
Drive under pressure. Keep your tires properly inflated--you'll find the optimum range listed on your doorjamb, in the glovebox, or by the gas cap. Check your tires at least once a month, while you're filling up. This can reduce your gas consumption by 6 percent.
A/C or fresh air? It depends. If you're driving around town under 40 mph, put down the windows to cool off the car. At highway speeds, however, this will reduce the vehicle's aerodynamics, so use the air conditioner.