The sad truth is that your car emits as much carbon dioxide as your entire house. That’s the bad news. The good news is that anything you can do to improve the fuel efficiency of your car will have an enormous impact on climate change. In fact, experts say that paying attention to fuel efficiency in your car may be the single biggest thing you can do to prevent global warming
Buying a fuel-efficient car (like a hybrid) is wonderful. In fact, replacing your gas-guzzling car with a fuel-efficient one is by far the best thing you can do, out of all your choices. But not all of us can do that—at least, not right now. Carmakers haven’t sold enough hybrids in the U.S. yet to make them as affordable as they should be. That will change, but not for a few years.
So, in the interim, there are things you can do with the car you drive now to conserve energy and be more fuel-efficient.
Drive less. Every year, Americans as a whole drive more miles than they did the year before. Stop this trend, and we drive a stake in that trend. Telecommuting and public transportation are great options—once a week saves a ton of carbon dioxide a year—but even piling multiple errands into one trip helps. If you can walk instead of drive, even better.
Get your car tuned up. Just a simple tune-up often improves fuel efficiency by half. If 100,000 of us went out and got a tune up, we save 124,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
Slow down, don’t race your car’s engine, and watch your idling. All of these save on gas (saving you money) and have a big impact on burning gasoline.
Horribly inefficient SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks now make up more than half of the cars on American roads. The real tragedy is that automakers could double the current average fuel efficiency of SUVs if they wanted to, which would save 70 tons of carbon dioxide per car. The technology exists. Unfortunately, consumer demand does not.