Thursday, June 14, 2012

Driving to Conserve Fuel

I think everyone knows that the faster you drive, the more fuel your vehicle uses.  And, of course, that means more pollution out the tailpipe.

However, I don't think many people really know how much more fuel is burned and pollution caused by even a small increase in your speed.  I think you may be surprised.  I was.

In fact, with fuel prices constantly increasing and environmental issues a concern each day, we have to take a look at what we can do as drivers.  Perhaps the easiest way to make an improvement in our fuel consumption and emissions is to simply slow down.  Very few drivers these days actually drive the speed limit, but if we even slowed down a little, it would make a huge impact.

You may also be surprised at how little time will be added to your daily commute when you slow down to even the speed limit.  Again, I was.

So, slowing down helps.  But that's not the whole solution.  How you accelerate away from a standstill is also critical.  "Squeezing" the gas pedal down is a key ingredient in smooth driving and helps to maintain maximum control.  This "squeezing" of the pedal will also significantly improve your fuel mileage and decrease emissions.

Maintaining your speed is the real key, though.  The less you accelerate, brake, accelerate, brake, accelerate...the more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly you'll be.  Try looking farther ahead in traffic and time the signal lights so that you don't always have to come to a complete stop.

If you are driving a manual transmission vehicle, try to determine the best engine RPM at which to shift.  Attempt to feel and shift at the point where the engine runs "free" - neither over-revving, nor "lugging".  Feel for the engine and this will be the best place at which to shift.

All these small points: slowing down slightly, driving smoothly, "squeezing" the gas pedal, braking as little as possible, shifting at the correct time - not to mention checking tire pressures - can save you big dollars and make an immense impact on the environment.  And believe me, it won't add more than a couple of minutes to your daily commute - a very small price to pay for the big savings.  It will also reduce the wear and tear on the vehicle, allow you to drive at a more relaxed pace and make the road a much safer place to be.

On the other hand, don't take my word for it - try it for yourself.  For one week, really concentrate on driving a little slower and more smoothly.  Then make a note of how much longer a tank of fuel lasts.  You may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Contributed by Ross Bentley, copyright Ross Bentley, reprinted with permission

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