You’ve probably noticed by now that gas prices are well above $3 a gallon, and you’ve probably heard many experts predict prices in excess of $4 per gallon by summer’s end, right? What about global warming and the fact that most of the countries we buy our oil from hate our guts? OK, good. We’re on the same page, then.
If you started reading this expecting to see more journalists put forth their blind conjecture, addressing questions with painfully obvious answers and beating the doom-and-gloom drum, you’ll have to look elsewhere. We here at the Campus Times decided instead to be useful and provide you with some simple yet effective tips on how to cut back on your petroleum use and, as a result, reduce your impact on the environment. Here are some of our favorites, in no particular order.
• Don’t accelerate so hard. We know you probably love mashing the gas to get away from a stoplight or stop sign so you can listen to your custom exhaust, impress the opposite sex or just feel the rush of accelerating, but it probably wouldn’t be quite as much fun if you actually knew how much fuel you were wasting. A smooth, gradual application of the power may not be as fast or exciting as stomping on the throttle, but we’d take saving a couple bucks over mindless and temporary thrills any day, especially now.
• Coast up to red lights, stop signs and the like. Regardless of how you go about accelerating, you always have to stop, eventually. But instead of just waiting until the last few yards to jam on your left pedal (center pedal for all our stick-shift peeps), try just coasting up to the limit line, all the while easing onto the brakes little by little. This technique not only saves gas because you’re not on the throttle as long, but it also saves excess wear and tear on your brakes. Plus, you’ll be much less likely to inadvertently empty your precariously overfilled $6 Starbucks beverage onto the dashboard. If that’s not incentive enough, then what is?
• Don’t drive so fast. As a general rule, the faster you drive, the harder your engine has to work to overcome the forces of friction, gravity and aerodynamic drag, thus consuming more fuel. Sure, you’ll get to your destination a handful of seconds sooner, but you’ll be wasting fuel and putting yourself and those around you at unnecessary risk. In other words, save the dizzying velocities for the racetrack.
• Keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure. Even after the Ford Explorer/Firestone tire debacle of a few years ago, most people probably still don’t give the well-being of their tires much thought. But keeping tires properly inflated is not just a safety issue; it’s also an efficiency issue.
Under-inflated tires have higher rolling resistance than correctly-inflated tires, because less air inside means the tires have a harder time holding their round shape under the vehicle’s weight. More rolling resistance means the engine has to work harder which, again, means more fuel is burned.
• Don’t carry unnecessary weight or items. Sure, it’s a always a great idea to have an emergency kit and some basic automotive tools on hand in your trunk, but do you always need to carry around those child seats, pet carriers and that third row seat you have still yet to use? All those seemingly insignificant items can add up to serious surplus girth, which requires your engine to work harder to get moving. And, all together now, “The harder my engine works, the more fuel it uses.” Besides, it’s not like taking 30 seconds out of your life to load and unload those things each time is a big deal.
If we all just spend less time thinking about ourselves (Trust us, it’s easier than it sounds.) and follow these and other helpful and painless words of wisdom, we can save money and the planet. That’s all we have to say. The rest is up to you.