Green Living: How to Drive Green

Green Living: How to Drive Green
Everywhere you look, there’s a car puttering about or sitting quietly on its patch of pavement. These four wheeled fellows are incredible tools that make modern society possible – but it’s a shame that the CO2 they produce is so terrible for the environment.

Can we make our cars truly eco-friendly? Well – if we have enough time and money, yes – but most of us can’t afford a new car or significant engine modifications.

Can we make our driving habits eco-friendly? Absolutely – just follow these five tips.

Tip #1: Take It Easy
No one thinks they’re an aggressive driver, it’s that everyone else is slower. But if you find you’re the only “normal” one in a world full of slow people, there’s a good chance you rely on rapid acceleration and aggressive driving techniques.

And I’ve got bad news – aggressive driving can lower your MPG by up to 37%. So try to take it easy when you drive. Accelerate moderately, don’t aggressively overtake, don’t rush toward a yellow hoping to beat it. Be willing to let your drive home run a few minutes longer and you’ll begin reaping the rewards.

Tip #2: Don’t Be Idle
Vehicle idling hurts MPG – simple as that. If you’re going to be idling for even ten seconds, turning off your car will actually save you gas.

Now, I’m not saying you should turn the car off at every long light (it’s illegal to do that in some states). What you can do is turn it off when you’re in parking lots, driveways, or the drive-thru.

Tip #3: Speed (Don’t)
The sign says 65, but most of us go 70 or 75 (if we’re being modest). Those higher speeds may get us to work a minute or two early, but at the cost of our MPG.

Every car has an“optimal” speed, usually between 50-60 mph, where it gets its highest fuel economy. Pushing your car past that speed causes your MPG to plummet as the efficiency of the engine decreases and you have to fight against rapidly increasing air resistance.

So stick to the speed limit and you’ll keep your MPG higher.

Tip #4: Cruising Isn’t Loosing
Cruise Control is a great tool because it replaces the clumsiest part of the driving experience – our foot. There’s no jerky acceleration, no awkward revving or hard braking. The smooth, steady pace of cruise control can bump your MPG by 7-14%!

If you live in a really hilly or mountainous area, don’t follow this tip. Cruise control doesn’t really compensate well for those geological features.

Tip #5: Natural Braking
If you find yourself relying heavily on your brakes for lights and stop signs, you’re wasting gas. How so?

If you accelerate for too long when approaching a stop sign and have to hit the brakes to stop, all the energy and momentum you’ve just built up is wasted – energy you’ve built up with your gas.

So don’t rely on your brakes alone; try easing off the gas early and letting good old fashion drag slow you down. Doing this will save you both gas and wear on your brake pads.

Thanks to the following sources for the great information: the team at,,,, Robert Duffer of the Chicago Tribune, and the team at for their two fantastic articles.

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