How to Drive Green (and Save Money) Without A Hybrid Vehicle

View of a line of traffic backed up in rush hour.

Here are some simple steps you can take to “Drive Green.”

Stricter U.S. auto emissions targets and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards which mandate a fleet average of 54.5 MPG by 2025, have prompted car makers to ramp up efforts to sell more electric vehicles (EVs), hybrids and diesel models. While diesel cars have been in the news recently, the diesel engine remains the most energy efficient internal combustion engine. In addition, biodiesel fuel reduces greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent and often by as much as 81 percent vs. petroleum. Don Scott, National Biodiesel Board director of sustainability, recently called biodiesel “the most sustainable fuel on the planet”*.

But as a driver, you don’t need to buy a diesel car, or an electric vehicle, to increase gas mileage and reduce your fuel consumption and emissions. 

  1. Save gas by driving smoothly and steadily. Avoid quick starts and stops when possible and don’t ride the brakes. Constant acceleration and deceleration can waste up to a third of your gas and put undue wear and tear on your engine, transmission, tires and brakes.
  2. Slow down, and use overdrive gears and cruise control if you have them. Fuel economy decreases about 1% for each mph over 55. Driving 65 mph vs. 75 miles mph, for example, increases fuel economy by about 10%.
  3. Reduce weight and drag. Empty your trunk of unnecessary items stored there. For every 100lbs you reduce, you can improve fuel economy by 1-2%. Removing unused roof racks, tow-hook carriers and other items that cause wind resistance also improve fuel economy.
  4. Avoid idling. If you’re going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, you’ll save fuel by turning the engine off.
  5. Keep your tires properly inflated and you can improve fuel economy by up to 3%.
  6. Maintain your vehicle. Routinely check those things that have the most impact on fuel economy, such as oil and air filters, engine performance, tire pressure and emission controls. A single misfiring spark plug can cut fuel economy by up to 4 percent.

According to the Toco Car Maintenance Survey and Index of 2015, drivers who have a vehicle service contract (VSC) do a better job at car maintenance than those who do not have a VSC, so having a VSC may help you drive more green. A vehicle service contract can help you avoid the financial burden of unexpected covered car repair bills. VSCs like the ones offered by Toco Warranty, also include 24 hour roadside assistance. For an affordable monthly fee, you can keep your budget intact and get peace of mind – and help.

* “CARB affirms biodiesel as lowest-carbon fuel in revised LCFS”, The National Biodiesel Board, Biodiesel Magazine, September 25, 2015