Selecting a green New Year’s resolution for 2012: An eco-friendly commute

While purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle can be beneficial to the environment, making that kind of investment may be outside of many individuals' current budget. And while biking and utilizing public transportation is a greener alternative to driving, it's not always a practical solution for those who keep a busy schedule or have a long commute. But, there are a number of good driving tips from reliable sources like the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency that you can use to craft a New Year's resolution that cuts your car's energy consumption and helps the environment this year.

Buy a GPS or just ask for directions. Asking for directions is nearly taboo for men, and according to a survey conducted by insurance company Sheilas' Wheels, the average male drives 276 miles without knowing where he's going each year. Twenty-six percent of men said they drive around lost for at least 30 minutes before they stop and ask for directions, while 12 percent said they wouldn't stop at all. Green suggestion, keep your pride and buy a GPS. Those not ready to spend $100 on a new gadget can download navigation apps on their smartphones. Android devices come with a free Google Maps GPS app, and iPhone users can get the free Waze navigation app or download GPS apps from trusted names like Garmin and TomTom.

Buy new tires. Your car's tires are responsible for up to 30 percent of the vehicle's total amount of fuel consumption. As such, purchasing fuel-efficient tires can improve your fuel economy by up to 4 percent. It may not be without an upfront cost, but it will ultimately save you money on gas and cut your energy consumption significantly over time. Keeping your tires inflated to the correct PSI is also important, as your car's fuel economy decreases by 0.3 percent for each PSI drop in tire pressure.

Leave earlier and slow down. Accelerating and rapid braking can lower your gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway, or in other words, about 99 cents per gallon of gas (assuming gasoline costs $3 a gallon). Your car's gas mileage progressively worsens once you top 60 miles per hour. For every five miles per hour over that threshold, your car becomes anywhere from 7 to 23 percent less efficient.

 

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