4 ways to save fuel on Earth Day
Earth Day is about being nice to the environment. One of the best ways to be eco-friendly and save money is to become a Fuel Miser.
What's a Fuel Miser you ask? Easy: it's someone who uses as little fuel as possible in order to save money, the environment, and even to prolong the life of their car. Everything you're about to read is based off my book, To the Last Drop: 10 Ways to Miser Fuel Savings.
Tip 1: Don't Drive
I'm about to break all the rules for an automotive site and tell you something decidedly un-gearheadish - you shouldn't drive your car. Alright, that was a little intense. What I mean is, it's obvious that your car uses fuel when you are running its engine. Right? So don't do it. The obvious alternatives are using public transportation, carpooling, bike riding, and so on. You've heard all those before.
Analyze your friendships. If you spend a lot of time with specific friends, you have probably noticed that someone in your group of friends is always driving everyone else. Don't be that friend. If someone is always driving, make sure it's not you. If it is you, mention it to your friends and see if they can make it even somehow. Friendship is about sharing and stuff. I read that once.
Tip 2: Go On a Diet
You're eventually going to have to come to terms with the fact that your car is fat. Since they haven't done an automotive challenge on Biggest Loser yet, we'll do one here as a public service. Studies that I made up have shown that 1 in 3 Americans has an overweight car. It's a sad phenomenon that leads to problems like lower fuel economy, less interior space, and even safety issues when that extra junk in the trunk comes flying out at inopportune moments.
The top thing you can do this Earth Day to improve your car is to do a weight loss intervention and clean up your ride. Every 100 pounds of weight is 1% of fuel economy down the drain. Things add up. If you weigh 150 pounds (you supermodel stick figure you), your clothing is 20 pounds (those stripper boots are heavy), your book bag is another 25 pounds (should've bought the smaller laptop), and you have another 60 pounds of miscellaneous junk (like fast food wrappers and old Jon Bon Jovi albums) floating around your car, then you've got 255 pounds being toted around in your decidedly non-HOV-worthy ride. Your summer swimsuit cabbage soup diet drops you ten pounds, your car's Biggest Loser cleanup event gets that 60 pounds of '80s crap out of your ride, and you ditch the book bag when you don't need it. Now you're 95 pounds lighter. That likely means almost half a gallon per mile saved for most autos.
Other weight dropping techniques include ditching the spare tire (responsibly, of course - put it in your closet, they make great pet beds if you add a pillow inside the hollow). If you live in the city and have roadside assistance coverage with your insurance, what's the point of carrying that thing around? The spare and the tools that go with it (jack, wrench) are 30 or more pounds in total for many vehicles. For those who primarily drive in-town, this is a lot of weight for no reason. Many automakers are ditching the spare already.
What about aerodynamics? If you drive over 35mph and have the windows down, you're dragging unnecessarily. While the air conditioner will eat up 2-3 miles per gallon in most vehicles, having the windows rolled down is even worse when you're traveling at higher speeds. Plus it makes it hard to hear the radio if you listen to lame music, though hard rockers like myself do not have this issue since we're mostly deaf already.
Time to re-think the chic of having a big rack on a little car. Bicycle racks (what did you think I was talking about?) add a lot of aerodynamic drag to a vehicle. If you're not using it, remove it. If you are using it just to tote around your bike and look cool.. you're lame. Don't be a poseur. The same goes for your lame team flags and other add-ons. Trucker antennas for your CB are the exception, of course. Always cool.
Tip 3: Good Rubbers
All of us know (some maybe more than others) that having the right rubber can save lives. It's the same for your car, though it doesn't usually involve wakka-wakka guitars and smooth talking. Your car uses fuel's energy to overcome two things: air resistance and rolling resistance. Your tires are all about the latter.
Without getting all Poindexter about it, three things are involved in rolling resistance: weight, the roadway itself, and tire tackiness and width. Weight we've already talked about and road surfaces are kind of a public matter (hint: sidewalks are not generally better than asphalt). The tires, though, you can do a lot about that.