Save Money, Save the Environment

How to save money and save the environment

A while back, I decided to upgrade my old phone (which had succumbed to my idiocy) and get a smartphone.  I ended up choosing an HTC flavor Android for multiple reasons, one of which I figured I’d be able to better manage my schedule and other things with it.  I didnt anticipate how much I would use some of the apps that I’ve downloaded.

As you know, I always try to find slight tweaks in my daily actions or slight variations on things I would be doing anyway that will save me money or benefit my health or the health of the environment.  These generally add up to nothing more than parking farther away (to walk more), which is typically not a big deal.  These are not difficult, but getting in the habit of doing them can be occasionally burdensome.  The one I’m going to talk about today is my gas milage app.

This is a free app that I downloaded a month ago, but you don’t need a smart phone to track the mileage on your gas.  Some of the newer cars (like the rental I had last month) do it for you, but a simple excel spreadsheet will work just fine.  I put the price of my gas, the number of gallons, and the current odometer reading into the app, and It does the rest.  It tells me fuel economy, minimum and maximum distance between fill ups, average fuel price, average cost and the total I’ve paid for fuel since I started using the app.  Here are some of the numbers.

My average fuel economy is 20.38 mpg (I drive a truck) and my high is 21.12 and my low is 18.92.  The EPA mileage estimates for my truck is 15-21 mpg.  I’m happy that I’m getting towards the top end of this.  The average cost per mile of my gas (keep in mind, this is not for full vehicle usage, that would include wear & tear, insurance, etc) is .217 cents per mile.  I personally think that’s pretty good.  I’ve spent $472 on gas since I started using the app on 4/3/2010, and did not input any info for the month I had the rental car, as I didn’t want to skew the averages.  So, now you’re thinking that I get pretty good gas mileage, and want to know why.  Here are a few reasons:

  1. I do 98% of my driving on the highway.  Some of you may do that as well, but at the times I’m on the road and because I live in a rural area, I never, ever run into traffic.
  2. All of that Highway driving is on cruise control.
  3. During the times I am in the city, I don’t jackrabbit start.  I slowly bring the car up to the speed limit, typically limiting my RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) to under 3,000
  4. Don’t slam on the breaks either.  Cars take energy to stop just like they take energy to get started again.
  5. I don’t idle the car.  This wastes gas (and thusly, money) and is bad for the environment.
  6. Keep the car empty.  There’s no sense in toting around things you don’t need in the car.  This extra weight reduces gas mileage.
  7. Depending on Speed (55+ or so) the air conditioning is better at saving gas than rolling down the windows (increased drag)
  8. Keep your car healthy by properly inflating tires, keeping the filters clean (the air filter, not so much the cabin filter) and keeping the oil fresh.
  9. If you’ve got more seats than you need, remove the 3rd row (or consider selling the vehicle all together)

Most of these solutions work in the near term.  If you’re buying a car, however, the calculus changes drastically.  If you’re in the market, consider a vehicle that runs on something other than gas, such as an electric hybrid or an ethanol or natural gas vehicle.  These fuels are produced in house (the US has plenty of coal and natural gas reserves) and are typically cheaper fuels that are better for the environment.  Even consider getting a gas hybrid like the toyota prius, which gets 60 miles on the highway.  For me, that would be a savings of 2 gallons every sixty miles (or about 5 bucks).  Given that I drive over 100 miles a day, that’s quite a savings.

So, How is all this good for the Environment?

Fuel emissions from autos are one of the largest sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG).  Wether you believe in this or not, are you prepared to be wrong and have your children and grandchildren (and possibly even you) deal with the consequences?  It could just be easier for you to save a bit of gas and save a bit of money.  As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.   This next part could form a whole post (and very well may soon enough) but its about reducing the dependancy on foreign imported fuels.  According to the EPA, over half of our oil is imported, and each time there has been a change in the global price of oil, our economy has paid.  Not only is this an economic problem, it’s a national security problem as well.  Given the historically volitale situation in the middle east where the majority of the oil is produced, our dependence on this fuel could cause problems and a moral hazard in the future.  (Some say that has happened already with the war in Iraq).  Even the oil that is produced domestically has consequences, as I’m sure everyone is aware of the Deepwater Horizon rig blast & subsequent environmental disaster.

As they say, waste not, want not.  Filling up your car with gas is LAME, so why make it more expensive.  Why pay more than you need to because of poor driving habits?  Please tune in next wednesday for some alternatives to using gas as a fuel.  I’ll cover all types of alternative transportation fuels, and how you can really “stick it to the man” ….If that’s your thing.

Yakezie Links (these are some good links I found around the web over the weekend.

Ramit at I will teach you to be rich has a jewel called “Attention annoying hypocrites: Stop being judgmental about your friends’ money habits

Flexo at Consumerism Commentary talks about how Citibank changed its cash back benefits

Elle had a great post on how to pack effectively for vacation (slightly late for the memorial day holiday, im afraid)

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About Jeff

Jeff is the founder of sustainable life blog and has been interested in sustainability for most of his life. After realizing in 2007 that his finances were a total wreck, he started reading financial blogs and quickly realized that what is best for your wallet is typically better for the earth, and is usually healthier. On sustainable life blog Jeff shares his journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. For updates, subscribe by email or like us on facebook.

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