Earth Notes
3:10 am
Wed December 10, 2008

Earth Notes - Energy Conservation IV: Car Fuel Economy

Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Energy Conservation IV: Car Fuel Economy


This week Earth Notes concludes its energy conservation series with a look at a major polluter the cars we drive.

A gasoline engine typically produces almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon of fuel burned. How can you increase your miles per gallon? A few simple tips can help.

First, check your tire pressure. Inflate your tires until they're at or just above the middle of the range recommended on the tire walls. Fuel efficiency increases even more if you inflate tires to maximum pressure, but this wears them out more quickly, unless you're carrying a heavy load.

If you have a removable rack, take it off when you're not carrying skis or a bike. It adds weight and increases wind resistance. And clean out that junk in your trunk. The EPA estimates that every extra 100 pounds your car carries decreases fuel economy by 2 percent.

Once you're on the road, avoid sudden acceleration and deceleration. Time your approach to stoplights by easing off the throttle or braking in advance. The less often you have to come to a full stop, the more efficiently you'll use fuel. On the open road, speeds of 55 to 65 produce the best fuel economy from most vehicles.

Finally, change your air filter regularly. In the dusty Southwest that's every 3,000 miles or less.

A lot of energy conservation is going to be needed to combat climate change. The good news is, it's a practice we can work at every day, and everywhere.

-Diane Hope