Cars are not so environmentally friendly. The latest CO2 emissions data (2017) puts the U.S. as the second-largest contributor to greenhouse gasses, only second to China. And one-third of that contribution is from transportation. We all need transportation to get to and from work and other activities, especially here in the sprawling land of Texas. Often, cars are among the least eco-friendly.
But just because transportation is problematic doesn’t mean we can’t use it while reducing our carbon footprint. There are many steps we can take to reduce emissions while driving.
First, take the quiz to see how much you know about being an eco-friendly driver. Then, read more about these questions (and their answers) below.
Are you an eco-friendly driver?
In 2015 transportation emissions accounted for about a third of total emissions in the U.S. Passenger vehicles make up 60 percent of this. New technology has allowed for lower emissions in vehicles, but there are other ways your drive can impact the environment as well.
Take the quiz below to see how much you know. Then, read more about these answers below.
As you can see, being efficient isn’t always straightforward. Here are our answers and why they’re important.
1. What is the best way to conserve energy on the road?
There is some truth to each of these statements. Turning the AC off and rolling the windows down can reduce your fuel consumption, but only when going about 40 mph or under. And even then, it depends on your type of vehicle.
Going an average of 55 mph is an agreed-upon speed for optimum efficiency, but not 65 mph. And turning off headlights can save a bit of gas, but, this too, depends on the type of headlights. The effects of both can be marginal.
The one consistently useful tactic of conserving energy is to start and stop gently. Gas is wasted on sudden increases or decreases of speed. While slow stops and starts may not be viable in every situation on the road, it’s a good rule to drive by.
2. What sort of car is the most eco-friendly?
Your best bet for an eco-friendly car is going to be an entirely electric sedan. Some all-electric options include the Audi A3 e-Tron SUV, the Chevrolet Bolt, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, the Kia Niro EV, and, as mentioned in the answer, the Nissan Leaf.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are recently-recalled Volkswagen models that include the 2014 Jetta. Several VW models faked their emissions test results and actually produce more emissions than recommended by the EPA.
3. Which of these has an impact on your fuel efficiency?
All of these answers had big impacts on fuel efficiency. Cars vary greatly on MPG. Hills and rough roads can contribute to a lower fuel efficiency because your car will have to work harder against the elements of friction and gravity.
One factor you may not have realized, that impacts your carbon footprint, is the kind of electric grid your city has. However your state fuels electricity determines whether that energy is high or low emissions in the long run. If you’re charging up your EV in West Virginia, odds are you’re doing more harm than you would using gas-powered vehicles. Why? Because 92% of West Virginia’s power grid is fueled by coal-fired electric plants, and coal emits more CO2 than gasoline.
4. Which of these is not a direct fuel source for cars?
This is a little more straightforward. There is no way to power your vehicle via wind (at least not yet!), though some cities partly power their electric grid with wind energy. This energy is more eco-friendly than coal-produced electricity.
5. A typical passenger vehicle produces about how many tons of carbon dioxide per year?
The average vehicle emits 4.6 metric tons of CO2 every year. That’s over 10 thousand pounds just for one family vehicle.
6. Which of these is not helpful in reducing your transportation footprint?
There’s no advantage to keeping a low vehicle occupancy except for the extra weight causing a bit of drag. Overall, it’s more eco-friendly to carpool when possible to reduce the number of trips taken.
Talking about reducing trips, doing all your errands in one go will save gas, as opposed to taking several separate car rides.
Idling through the drive-thru is taking a greater toll on the environment as lines for fast food grow. In 2018, an average of 234 seconds was spent in drive-thru lines. That’s several minutes you could be saving gas by walking in the door.
Another way to reduce your car emissions is to unload unnecessary weight and/or drag. Especially if you have an outside weight like a kayak loaded on the luggage rack or a tow trailer attached.
7. Which of these car maintenance items can help you get your best MPG?
Car maintenance helps make sure your car isn’t using more energy than it needs to. For things to run smoothly, you’ll want to keep it in top condition.
8. Which is a benefit of electric vehicles?
People may actually wave at you on the street, but it’s not likely. The biggest advantage to an electric vehicle is that they quickly make up for their (typically) high price tag in energy savings. Unfortunately, their emissions do not fight CO2 emissions, but we can’t have it all, can we?
To find a smart, efficient vehicle, visit the EPA’s website.
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