How to Reduce Your Car's Carbon Footprint
Perfect world: we are all handed an electric car to reduce our carbon footprint
Real world: we have bills and budgets and incomes that don't allow us to go out and buy a brand new eco-friendly car when we want to be more green
I live in your standard suburbia. I drive my trusty 2007 paid off Altima. I love that car and financially it is an awesome asset to have - paid off and well taken care of.
Carbon footprint though? Could be better. However, at this point our budget does not include buying a new car. I also can't swallow the idea of having a car payment yet if I don't need to.
For now, my option is to do what I can to decrease my car emissions. The bonus is that reducing gas usage saves money in the budget too!
Tips for Reducing your Car's Carbon Footprint
1. Bundle or Reduce Errands
Instead of going to the grocery store today then the pharmacy tomorrow, lump all your errands in one trip and plan which places are near each other. Is the library next to the grocery store? Bring the books to return when you go in one trip instead of the next day.
Moreover, take a second to think if you really need to do something or you're just bored. This tactic will likely help the wallet too. Heading to Target just to browse? Resist the urge and find something to do at home, here are some ideas to help stop unnecessary shopping.
2. Stop being a speed demon (and slamming the breaks!)
Accelerating constantly only to slam the breaks to make that light kills your fuel economy. Instead, obey the speed limit and try to avoid coming to a hard stop. These habits alone can increase your gas mileage 10-40% (source).
Aggressive driving also drastically increases your risk for an accident. Even if you are physically ok from having an accident, your insurance will likely rise (bye bye $$$) and you will have to replace that damaged bumper (hello excess waste).
3. Keep Up With Maintenance
Cars are an expensive asset and, presumably, not one you want to destroy quickly by not taking care of it. Air filters should be changed about every 15,000 miles, depending on your car (this can be found in your manual or a quick google search). You can buy a new filter for around $10 and, with a quick tutorial, it is an easy job you can do yourself! Air filters are one of the easiest tasks you can keep up with so there is no excuse to let it go too long.
Other maintenance activities include getting your oil changed, replacing spark plugs, and maintaining appropriate air pressure. Check your manual or the inside of your car door and buy a gauge to keep in your glove compartment to check monthly. Big changes come especially during season changes as the pressure is affected by temperature. You can pick up a gauge for $5.
Did you know?: Most gas stations have areas to fill your tires but the machines are coin operated. However, some states require gas stations to provide air for free. All you have to do is go inside and ask them to turn the machine on.
Altogether, if you keep up with oil changes, air filter changes, tire pressure, and spark plugs, you can increase you mileage by about 25% (source).
4. Take Out Excess Weight
Carrying around junk in the trunk? Clean your car out and store extra things inside your home. Do you have a ski rack on your car....but it's spring? Time to take it off.
Not only do roof racks and cargo racks decrease your mileage from weight but it also increases the aerodynamic drag.
Excess weight = more gas to move the car
5. Go Easy on the AC
Don't make your car an icebox. The AC unit uses a ton of excess gas to power it. Open the windows, use a fan, and try parking in shaded areas to reduce the need to cool it down.
6. Work From Home
Not an option for everyone, but if you are lucky enough to be able to telecommute - do so! Even one day a week decreases those emissions from driving to work - and the energy spent changing out of pajamas ;)