Tips to reduce your footprint on the environment -- plus save you gas money!
Planning a family road trip? Practise these easy eco-friendly driving tips, and you'll make your journey behind the wheel greener -- these ideas are not only good for the planet, they'll also save you money. (PS: Incorporate these eco-friendly driving habits in your day-to-day trips, too!)
Know your shortest route
Less distance usually means less gas, so plan the most direct route to your destination. Use Google Maps or a GPS navigation system to help you figure out the shortest route to your destination. Of course, another factor that affects fuel consumption is traffic conditions -- for an eco-friendly trip, try to drive during the off-peak hours so you won't get stuck in a jam.
Set the cruise control
Maneuvers like speeding, tailgating and rapidly accelerating then slamming on the breaks can lower gas mileage by as much as 5 percent on local roads and up to 33 percent on the highway, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. So the next time you're on the highway, set the cruise control at 60 mph, and calmly coast to your destination. Not only are you more likely to arrive safely, but you'll save money while helping the environment too.
Lose the junk in your trunk
Unnecessary weight makes cars guzzle gas, so clear out any sports gear, books and other stuff you've been hauling around but don't need. Adding just 100 extra pounds, for example, can decrease fuel efficiency by up to 2 percent. On long trips and vacations -- when you can't avoid a heavy load -- try to fit everything in the trunk or inside your car. Tying bikes or cargo boxes to the roof may give you extra room, but it causes a drag on usually aerodynamic cars and reduces fuel efficiency even more than the added weight alone. If you can't fit everything, try hitching a small trailer to the back of your car, which doesn't create the same drag.
Keep tires inflated
Here's why keeping proper tire pressure is so important: For every pound per square inch (PSI) that your tires are underinflated, you lose about 1 percent in fuel economy (per tire!), plus it increases wear and tear on your vehicle, says Robert Sinclair Jr., media relations manager for AAA New York. Here's how to check your tires' pressure: Look in the owners manual for the recommended tire PSI, then use an inexpensive pressure gauge (available at gas stations or auto parts and hardware stores). If the tires are low, fill up at a gas station's air compressor until you reach the right level. Check the pressure at least once a month, Sinclair suggests.