More Ways to Use Less
Alternative fuels and advanced technology vehicles are a large part of Utah Clean Cities’ mission to reduce petroleum use in the transportation sector for the benefit of our environment, economy and energy security. However, there are other strategies that everyone can utilize, regardless of the fuel they use.
The most effective way to use less fuel is to drive less.
When you have to drive, drive smart. Fuel economy, or the number of miles a vehicle can travel on one gallon of fuel, is not a fixed number. Regardless of a vehicles fuel economy rating, the miles per gallon (mpg) a driver actually achieves can vary significantly due to driving habits, maintenance and environmental factors (i.e. use of AC, etc.).
Here are a few strategies to help you improve your vehicle's fuel economy:
Motorists are encouraged to shop around when looking for a new car. If alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles are not a good fit for you, consider vehicles with higher fuel economy ratings.
Turn Your Key Be Idle Free
Turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked. It takes more fuel to idle for 10 seconds, than it does to restart your vehicle, and idling truly gets you nowhere. Researchers estimate that idling, from heavy-duty and light-duty vehicles combined, wastes about 6 billion gallons of fuel annually. When you make an effort to turn off your vehicle, you benefit yourself, your wallet, your environment, and your community. Remember when your vehicle is idling you are getting ZERO mpg.
Proper Tire Inflation: When your tires are properly inflated, your vehicle will realize significantly higher fuel economy - every 1 lb/sq inch decrease in tire pressure (for four tires) is equal to an approximate 0.3% decrease in fuel economy. A good habit for all drivers is to visually inspect all tires each time you fuel. Additional options for fleets include: using nitrogen inflation and tire pressure monitoring systems. See owner's manual for recommended tire pressure.
Recommended Motor Oil: Using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil can also help insure maximum fuel efficiency. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30, can decrease fuel economy by 1% to 2%. Similarly, using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can decrease fuel economy by 1% to 1.5%. Additionally, motor oil labeled "Energy Conserving" in the performance information contains friction-reducing additives that improve fuel economy.
Engine Tune-Ups: Tuning a neglected vehicle or fixing one that failed an emissions test can increase fuel economy by 4% based on the repair type and quality. Repairing a serious problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can increase fuel economy up to 40%. In general, it is highly recommended to have your vehicle tuned up regularly.
Additional Money-Saving, Maintenance Tips:
Change your oil and oil filter regularly
Change your fuel filter and air filter
Monitor hoses, wiring, and belts
If warning lights come on, find out why and fix the problem
Be sure to check your owner's manual for service intervals and follow the automobile manufacturer's service recommendations.
Efficient Driving Habits
Trip Chain: When you have to drive, plan ahead! Trip chaining is when you group errands or other activities into one trip, instead of returning home in between each one. The more errands you accomplish in one trip, the less vehicle miles you travel. Planning your trips to avoid peak traffic hours is also a great way to save time and money. Route optimization software can help you find the best way to combine trips.
Carpool: When there are more people using one vehicle, each person's travel costs are reduced as well as the stress of driving. It also reduces vehicle emissions and traffic congestion. Find a carpool.
Avoid Speeding: Speeding decreases fuel economy. While vehicles reach optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 miles per hour. Cruise control can help maintain a consistent speed.
Accelerate Smoothly: Gentle and well-timed acceleration and braking can improve the fuel economy of your vehicle by 33% on the highway and 5% in the city. Driving conservatively can help save fuel and money.
Remove Excess Weight & Exterior Vehicle Accessories: Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle can decrease fuel economy by up to 2%. Additionally, vehicle accessories, like roof racks, that increase aerodynamic drag can decrease fuel economy up to 5%.