By Sarah Lozanova, Sustainability Writer
Although you may dream of buying a hybrid or an electric vehicle, many of us have to drive the cars we already have, at least for the time being. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do with driving habits and car maintenance to boost fuel economy and improve energy efficiency. Whether you want to save money or cut your carbon footprint (or ideally both!), check out these tips and learn to save green at the pump.
1. Use Your Brakes Sparingly
Yes, they are a great invention, and safe driving practices involve using your brakes. Although there is certainly a time and place for applying the brakes, they can also be overused. Let the car coast before approaching stop signs, stoplights and congested areas where you will likely need to slow down. Your gas tank loves it when you lay off both the accelerator and the brake, as it saves a lot of gas. Laying off the brakes saves gasoline because most cars merely waste energy when the brakes are applied. Some cars, such as the Toyota Prius, have regenerative braking systems that capture some of the kinetic energy and transfer it to the battery, but such systems aren’t completely efficient.
2. Roll Up the Windows at High Speeds
Rolling down the windows makes your car less aerodynamic, causing it to consume more fuel. This is true at all speeds, but even more so at high speeds. The exact numbers vary by the car, but the air conditioning is usually more efficient than rolling down the windows at speeds above 60 miles per hour. At lower speeds, it saves energy to roll down the windows and turn off the air conditioner, according to Popular Mechanics.
Freelance clean energy writer