Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Break the idling habit

Now that the weather is cooling down we’re getting into what seems to be the “idling season”. By no means is this problem limited to winter. It’s just that this time of year idling is much more obvious. The exhaust billowing out of tail pipes is a visible and smelly reminder that cars do a lot of polluting.

Whether you’re in line for the ferry to the Peninsula or waiting to pick up your kids from school, remembering to turn off the ignition can have a big impact on the environment and your fuel budget. If every driver of a light duty vehicle in Canada could reduce their idling time each day by just five minutes, each year we’d save 1.8 million litres of fuel and keep 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere. In New Brunswick we’re rarely idling in traffic which means we have more options when it comes to breaking the idling habit.

Here’s an easy rule: If you’re going to be stopped more than 10 seconds (unless in traffic) then turn your car off. Idling for more than 10 seconds uses more fuel than starting your engine. So that means if you’re in your car and not moving, turn it off.

It means a quick warming of your car on a frosty morning. Avoid using a remote car starter. It’s way too easy to start your car long before you need to. Instead, bundle up and give yourself a few extra minutes to scrape the car. Or try this: mix in a spray bottle three parts vinegar, one part water and spray it on your car windows at night. The mixture will keep your windows ice and frost-free and save you time when you’re rushing in the morning. Keep the mixture under the kitchen sink so it’s always ready.

Turn your car off when you’re waiting to pick up your kids from school. (The added bonus is that kids don’t end up inhaling your exhaust fumes as they walk by.)

Avoid the drive-thru. Park and walk into the restaurant instead.

For every litre of gasoline used, the average car emits about 2.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide. You do the math for your car and then think about these additional tips to improve fuel efficiency and pollute less:

Avoid rapid acceleration and aggressive driving. If this is your driving style chances are you’re using up to 40% more fuel then you would if you were a little more relaxed and driving the speed limit.

If you’re lugging heavy stuff around in your trunk unload it. Same goes for roof carriers that aren’t in use. These things contribute to higher fuel usage.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Low tires make your car work harder to get from A to B. Check your tire pressure more often in winter, since cold temperatures decrease air pressure.

Walk more drive less.

Whether you’re looking for ways to save on gas or are concerned about pollution (or both) changing your driving habits a bit can make a huge difference.

This article was previously published in KV Style

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