Just about everybody knows that driving an electric or hybrid vehicle is better for the environment, but not everybody is in the position to buy one. When it comes to driving, there are other green things you can do that also add some "green" to your wallet. From inflating tires with alternative gases to choosing upcycled tires, our tire guide will help you green up your ride.
Inflate tires with nitrogen for improved fuel efficiency
According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Fuel Economy guide, under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Because nitrogen has more stable pressure than oxygen (due to its larger molecules), it is less likely to seep through the permeable tire walls. Tires that stay filled longer are better for the environment because:
If you want to compare your fuel savings between air- or nitrogen-filled tires, check out the Get Nitrogen Institute's nitrogen calculator.
Right-size tires on your vehicle = less wear and petroleum waste
Most of us assume that the tires our vehicles come with are the best option for our make or model. Tire size, driving conditions and materials used in manufacturing matter too, though, when it comes to wear and tear. If your two-ton vehicle is riding on an inadequate-size tires, you're literally going to burn rubber faster. Consider if touring tires, winter tires or all-season tires will provide better wear than what you drove off the dealer lot with. You can find the various performance grades of Continental tires at TireBuyer.com.
Discover if your car can use recycled retreaded tires
Retreaded tires offer eco-conscious drivers a reliable and affordable way to make use of upcycled materials. The Retread Tire Association reports that significant savings of raw materials exist by retreading, including synthetic and natural rubber, sulfur and sulfur compounds, silica, carbon black, steel wire, zinc oxide plus additional other materials and ingredients.
If you're wondering where you might find recycled tires to fit your vehicle, Earth 911 enables users to search using their zip code to find a dealer. We hope to see more recycled tire availability as the process of de-vulcanizing rubber takes off.
Green your tires by going orange
Adding orange oil in the tire manufacturing process can cut down petroleum use by four-fifths, according to greencarreports.com. While they won't appear orange or smell like citrus, these tires are even more slow-rolling than ones designed for hybrid models like the Toyota Prius. While most tires are made from petroleum, these eco-friendly tires get their orange oil from discarded orange peels from juice manufacturers and rely largely on renewable resources for the other design components. Unlike many slow-rolling tires that have fallen out of favor due to slippage on cold, wet surfaces, the orange oil heats up when the tire is in use, actually making it grippier.
The appeal of having an environmentally friendly car has led many consumers to purchase a hybrid. With the onset of global pollution and the need to find a healthier solution to transportation, these vehicles became available to keep the air clean and make an individual feel good about their driving habits. They can either be powered by fossil fuels, or electricity, and can put an ease on the amount of gas that is consumed. The market for hybrids was relatively tiny in 2003, but is now booming, with Americans annually buying them by the millions.
Before you decide to purchase a hybrid vehicle, there are a few things you should consider. Firstly, what is your price range? This is a far less painful question now, than it used to be a few years ago. Don’t be fooled, even though prices have become more competitive, hybrid cars are normally set at a higher price than their gas fueled counterparts. However, because this green vehicle can ultimately save you money in the long run, the money you’re saving can offset any monthly car payments if you can’t provide payment upfront; Auto Credit Express can help you with an auto loan calculator that will provide further insights.
It is up to you to do research prior to buying about the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. A dealer may not tell you this information and you don’t want to find yourself unpleasantly surprised when you first visit the gas pump. As the price of gas continues to make many drivers pale with fright, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy the perks of driving with minimal 40 miles per gallon. Next, you should consider the importance of the vehicles battery. Find out what state is the battery in and how long it has been sitting? No matter how new a battery is, it can still cause problems if it has been sitting for over three months. Make sure to ask the salesman for the lowdown on the battery, and know what kind of driving you’ll be doing.
When searching, take into consideration how unique a hybrid might be. Because they are not as prevalent as a normal ride, the list of specialists and mechanics equipped to handle fixes and inspections may be limited. This will likely lead you to maintaining your car through the dealership you bought it from. When talking to a salesman, find out the details of your warranty, as you may be able to have some work done for free by an authorized dealer. Hybrid cars tend to have better longevity than their gas-guzzling cousins; while they will still need routine maintenance checkups, you won’t have to deal with the pain and money strains of frequent repairs that are necessary to keep many older, traditional vehicles.
Because of the reduction in consumed resources and the lessened carbon footprint of these vehicles, both local and national governments often provide tax incentives for hybrid drivers. There are other geographically based rewards as well, like being able to drive by yourself in the carpool lane and cheaper parking. Even those car insurance companies so many of us love to grumble about, like Farmers Insurance, provide financial breaks to those who make the environmentally friendly leap.
Now is the fun part, when you select the type or brand you would like to buy. Toyota, Nissan, and Mitsubishi are just a few of the companies to make top class and affordable vehicles for the hybrid consumer. Nowadays, Nissan is the leader in electric-powered vehicle sales with the Nissan LEAF that requires not a drop of gasoline. So feel good as you pull into the driveway with a new hybrid vehicle; after all, you’re doing your part to ensure that both the earth and your wallet retain plenty of green.
Hybrids are hot right now, having dramatically increased their share of the overall vehicle market in the past several years. The Toyota Prius is in particularly high demand, displaying an impressive sales increase of 9.5 percent between May, 2012 and May, 2013, for a total annual volume of more than 23,000 vehicles. While drivers are buying hybrids for various reasons, given the combination of an economic slump and high gas prices, affordability is often listed as a deciding factor.
But are these fuel efficient vehicles actually more affordable than their standard counterparts?
Ownership Costs For Standard VehiclesA basic understanding of ownership costs of standard vehicles can help you better understand the implications of buying a hybrid. Typically, the upfront cost is greater for a hybrid, with some or all of the difference being made up through the hybrid's fuel efficiency. The American Automobile Association (AAA) listed the annual cost of owning and operating a mid-sized sedan at $9,122 a year, or 60 cents per mile. This figure assumes that the driver owns the sedan for a minimum of five years and racks up an estimated annual mileage of 15,000. Costs included in AAA's estimate include fuel, maintenance and insurance, all of which have the potential to be impacted by the hybrid label.
Ownership Costs For Hybrid VehiclesThe easiest way to compare long-term hybrid vehicle costs is to simply compare the hybrid version of a given vehicle to the original model. Edmunds lists the five year cost of owning a Honda Civic at $35,188. Compare this to the Civic Hybrid, which offered a slightly lower cost of ownership at $34,237. Thus, the conclusion is that, over a five year period, it is less expensive to own and operate a Civic Hybrid.
The economic benefits of hybrid ownership are also exemplified by a cost comparison of the Ford Fusion Sedan to the Ford Fusion Hybrid. During the course of five years, the standard Fusion costs $39,698 to operate, while the hybrid totals $34,465. Either Fusion is an affordable option, with www.drivetime.com listing the vehicle at just $18,965.
Let's Not Forget As with AAA's ownership cost estimate, Edmunds' calculations include fuel, repairs and auto insurance expenses. Most of the savings of a hybrid come from spending less time at the gas pump. Maintenance costs for the hybrid are slightly more expensive, simply because the battery pack will need to be replaced. However, this cost may be offset by federal and state tax breaks for hybrid owners.
Ultimately, a hybrid becomes more affordable the more it is used. Thus, if you do not anticipate driving your car over 10,000 miles per year, the hybrid may not yet serve as the more economical vehicle option. But for frequent drivers, the long-term reduction in gas prices is enough of offset the upfront cost, ultimately making a hybrid model the more affordable option.
Creative Commons image by mariordo59
Some people are never satisfied. Ignoring the fact that gasoline has done a terrific job of powering motorcycles for many years, they insist on exploring alternative fuels. Of course, there are good reasons. Although a small and lightweight motorcycle is an eco-friendly way of getting around town, gasoline is an imperfect fuel source.
Exhaust emissions are top of the issues list. Modern machines are cleaner than those of yore, but still put out a cocktail of smog-creating chemicals— most notably, CO2. The source of the gasoline concerns many people too. Derived from oil, there's a finite supply, and much of it has to be imported. And last, in urban environments where two-wheeled transportation is at its most useful, the noise generated by those mechanical motorcycle parts is a significant problem.
Electricity: The Obvious Alternative
A growing proportion of our electricity comes from renewables, but even when generated from coal or gas it's easier to control the emissions at source. An electric motorcycle has zero emissions at the point of use, but it has other selling points for biking enthusiasts. Electric motors generate instantaneous torque, making these machines remarkably quick. The smoothness is also a boon to riders, and the hush benefits everyone but those who love the throb of a Harley.
Harley riders may enjoy maintaining their machines, but for most bikers it's a chore. Electric power eliminates many motorcycle parts like spark plugs, oil and filters, so maintenance costs are almost zero and reliability is exceptionally good.
As with cars, the Achilles' heel of electric power is battery storage. The energy density of batteries is far less than that of gasoline, meaning range is limited. That's not necessarily a problem in cities though, where riders don't cover great distances, charging points are relatively plentiful, and regenerative braking puts power back into the battery.
Brew Your Own?
If batteries are such a nuisance, how about generating the electricity on-board when you need it?
That's the idea behind fuel cells. These generate electricity from hydrogen, producing water as a byproduct. As Forbes reports, the technology is well established— car manufacturers like Honda and BMW have had fuel-cell development cars running for several years— and a number of motorcycle manufacturers are working on fuel-cell bikes. But if you want to buy one, you'll need to wait a while.
Other fuel sources have been tried. An Argentinean motorcycle company, Zanella, promoted a bike that would run on compressed natural gas, while several enthusiasts have experimented with biodiesel. As a fuel, biodiesel is interesting because it's renewable, but the downsides are noise and exhaust emissions.
This is Not Science Fiction
Electric motorcycles are available now from companies like Evolve, Brammo and Zero. There is more evidence that these are practical alternatives to the old gasoline machines. Consider this: Gizmag.com reports that police forces from Monterey, Calif. to London, England, have tested and are using electric motorcycles.
So what's the future for eco-friendly motorcycles? Electric power is here but range concerns will likely hold back long-distance cruisers. Those folks will have to wait for fuel-cell bikes, but for city use the green motorcycle should satisfy most riders.
As you get started on your spring cleaning, forget about using chemical-filled commercial products. These can waste your money and pollute your breathing air. Instead, make non-toxic natural cleaners with these simple recipes:
In all rooms, use two cups of white vinegar and water to clean hard surfaces. Add drops of essential oil to mask the smell of vinegar.
Garbage Disposal Deodorizer
If smelly odors are creeping out of your garbage disposal, try this trick. After using a lemon (or lime), slice it into strips and cut the pulp out. Throw it down the disposal with a sprinkle of baking soda and splash of vinegar.
Hopefully you have a lot of lemons on hand because here's another cleaning recipe with this small citrus as the main ingredient. Fill a bowl full of warm water and lemon slices. Put in the microwave and cook for one minute. Let sit for three minutes, then wipe clean with a damp sponge.
Put an old tube sock on your hand like a sock puppet and dip it in a bowl of warm water mixed with vinegar. Wipe greasy, dirty, dusty blinds clean. If you have wooden blinds, use lemon oil (not water) to dust them. In some cases, you may be better off tossing the blinds and investing in grommet curtains made from eco-friendly materials or energy-efficient solar shades.
Pour 1/4 cup undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle. Add a tablespoon of cornstarch and fill with warm water. Shake to blend and wipe dry with crumpled newspaper, a cotton rag or coffee filter.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Mix several squirts of liquid dish soap into a cup with about a fourth cup vinegar. Pour mixture into the toilet and let sit for 15 minutes, then start scrubbing.
Carpet Stain Remover
Using a broom, vacuum or warm rag, remove any particles from the carpet before beginning. Next, sprinkle stain with cornstarch or baking soda. In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon clear dish washing liquid, two tablespoons vinegar and two cups of warm water. Blot stain until it's gone.
Leave sprinkled baking soda on the carpet for about 30 minutes before vacuuming it up. If you have young kids or animals that are prone to spills, consider pulling up the carpet and investing in laminate or softwood floors.
Don't let dust get the best of you. Combine several drops of pure lemon oil with two tablespoons of lemon juice. Add a drop or two of vegetable or olive oil and use a cotton cloth to wipe dust away.
Electric cars have come a long way, but there's a reason why hybrids are still topping the charts and pushing EVs out of sight. Hybrids make sense financially and in terms of range — and they're obviously eco-friendly. On the other hand, electric cars are pricey, time consuming and still in the new stages of development. Either way, you're driving green technology, and that's better than nothing. But realistically speaking, here are four reasons why hybrids win:
Electrics Don't Go the Distance
No matter what anyone says, when it comes to range, EVs just aren't there yet. Out of the newest generation of compact and mid-size electrics, the 2013 CODA gets about 88 miles per charge while the Ford Focus Electric averages 76 miles per charge and the Nissan Leaf came in at 73 miles per charge, according to Fueleconomy.gov. That can cover the average American's commute, but what about road trips? With seven to 12 hours of charging time, electric cars aren't reasonable for anything but a short commute.
Until electric cars can meet society's needs, they won't compare with hybrids. The 2013 Toyota Prius c can run 428 miles on a tank, and uses regenerative brakes to recharge its batteries. If you're looking for a used Toyota in Arlington, the 2010 Toyota Prius gets 536 miles per tank, according to Fueleconomy.gov. Yeah, that's more than the newest all-electric types, and despite driving an older model, you'd still be driving clean, green technology.
It's a Crime How Much They Cost
Let's talk price. First, let me show you something.
MSRP for EVs
MSRP for Hybrids
Do I need to say anything more? Price wise, even with the potential government tax credits (if qualified, totaling to about $7,500), EVs still can't keep up with hybrids.
Charge Time — Too Much Time
Electric technology is improving that I can't deny, but how much? Over the years, the time it takes to charge an electric car has diminished from 10-12 hours to four to seven hours — a big improvement but still — HOURS. Even if the technology is reducing our dependence on foreign oil supply and can help reduce greenhouse emissions, who has hours to fuel up? Until you can get a full charge while grabbing your soda and a pack of gum in the convenience store, electrics won't match up with hybrids.
Way Too Many Other Options
In general terms, the green movement groups across America are what lead people to electric and hybrid vehicle options. But there are also those who want a form of transportation that doesn't cost them hundreds at the gas pump. In looking for a way to save the planet, reduce their personal carbon footprint and save money at the pump, people are interested in seeing what else is available. In comes flashy technology about all-electrics. But here's the catch. Technology is improving across the board. Conventional cars are also seeing advancement, and in order for electric technology to keep up they're going to have to speed up.
The World Wildlife Fund projects that by the year 2050 we will need two more Earths to sustain our voracious appetites for consumption. As worldwide resources continue to dwindle, we need to get our act together quickly. Although it's not simple to change your life overnight, baby steps can reduce your carbon footprint.
A more natural lifestyle is integral in doing your part for the Earth . The simple truth is we need to consume less. It seems like no matter how many images, statistics and studies are thrust in front of us, most people still go on trying to keep up with the Joneses, buying things they don't really need. Take a moment to do some research and make some savvy, even fun, upgrades to your daily life to improve the Earth and your health.
Grow Food in Small Places
If you live in an apartment or condo with no space for a garden, stop daydreaming about delightful strolls through lush rows of greens. Bring the green indoors and grow windowsill herb gardens or other small, potted crops. More and more companies are creating DIY home gardens for the busy professional. If you love fresh, organic food they're worth looking into.
Stock Your Closets With Knowledge
Most of us like to have some semblance of style, even if it is “just rolled out of bed” chic. Green fashionistas however, are aware of the environmental impact that even hand-me-downs can have. The environmental risks of fashion manufacturing stretch far beyond the horrible conditions of sweat shops, points out Eco-fashionista Lynda Grose of Faircompanies.com. In fact, the dyes, washes and scraps from clothing manufacture can have horrible effects on the workers producing them and the environment surrounding them. And most people don't realize that most of our old clothing ends up in landfills. Environmentalist Stephen Dent recommends buying recycled and or organic clothing. Cottons and wools grown without pesticides, hormones or antibiotics are ideal.
The eco-friendly car movement in the automobile industry has seen a shift toward the use of more environmentally sustainable fuels, such as electricity and gas. Cars such as Toyota’s Hybrid, that has a mixed fuel engine using both petrol and electricity, have been a huge success, with people wanting to make environmentally smarter decisions when it comes to buying a new car.
Model S, Prius and Spyder
Eco-friendly cars have gained another win with American car manufacturers; Tesla’s Model S is being awarded Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year. The Model S is the first car with no internal combustion engine to win this coveted award, marking a significant moment in the push for environmentally friendly cars. The Model S is ready to reserve in Australia and deliveries will begin mid 2013 with a $6000 reserve payment.
For those looking for something sporty, in 2014 BMW will be releasing its i8 Spyder with a dual electric/petrol engine with prices expected to be high.
Despite the green progress, there are still significant issues reducing the number of consumers wanting to move into the eco car market. Toyota recently recalled over 2.7 million of its second generation Priuses due to issues with the water pump and steering. This follows previous Toyota recalls due to other manufacturing defaults. Toyota share prices plummeted because of the recall.
For drivers who are currently unable to invest in the hybrid or electric car market, it is still possible to lower the impact you and your car are having on the environment by following some simple guidelines:
By following these simple guidelines you will significantly reduce the environmental impact that you are having on our planet and save money at the same time.