Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Week 27--Drive Yourself Green

I don't need to tell you that gas prices are at an all-time high. Unless you can afford to buy a hybrid car--or at least find one without a waiting list--you're going to have to make do with the car you have.

This week in Green Boot Camp, your goal is to figure out ways to drive yourself green. In the process you should improve your gas mileage and, hopefully, cut down on how frequently you need to fill up on gas.

Start with checking the air pressure in your tires. (You'll find their proper pounds per square inch, or psi, on the side of the tire itself.) This is important because when tires are about 20 percent below where they should be as far as air pressure goes, you can expect to increase how much fuel you use by 10 percent.

Here's another reason to ensure that your tires are properly inflated: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that under-inflated tires (along with worn out or simply old tires) are a leading cause of traffic accidents. That means that if you keep your tires properly inflated--and you replace them when they get worn out--you'll reduce your risk of a tire-caused traffic accident.

Next, lighten your load by clearing out stuff in your car that your really don't need to be hauling around with you. You know how airlines are trying to lighten their loads to save fuel? Well the same applies to your car. If you haven't ever bothered to clean out your kids' heavy sports equipment or you've been toting around an extra case of bottled water (shame on you), just in case, then you are driving around extra weight that is weighing down your ability to get good gas mileage.

Try to practice hypermiling as much as you can--and I mean the safe kind of hypermiling, not the drafting kind that puts you in danger. This crazy term hypermiling is all about getting the most gas mileage out of each tank of gas by changing how your drive, brake and park. One excellent hypermiling tip is always to pull through a parking spot so that you're facing outwards to leave. If you park the traditional way, where you have to back out to drive away, you're using twice as much gas to get in and out of a parking spot. However, if you pull in nose first--and then pull all the way through--you can drive right out when you're done with your errands, thus saving you gas.

Finally, and I realize that this is a no brainer, probably the best way to green your driving is not to drive at all. Are there ways that you can work walking, carpooling or public transportation into your life? Figure out if any of these is doable, and I'll bet you'll see your gassing-up bill going down.

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