We are a nation of drivers. Nearly 60% of American households have 2 or more cars, and 8% have 4 or more. When George W. Bush said in his 2006 State of the Union that we’re “addicted to oil," he could just as easily have said that we’re "addicted to cars."
In the average household, driving is a whopping 12-20% of energy usage. The really crazy part is that some of this energy is a total waste. We’re taking too many unnecessary car trips and we’re driving old models that get few miles per gallon. And we’re overlooking easy opportunities to save gas, which, especially with current gas prices, is the equivalent of throwing money away. Sure, sprawling neighborhoods can make living without a car difficult, but there are many ways to change our driving habits in small but important ways that save money and energy with the added bonus of better health. By combining basic car maintenance with some new driving habits, you can improve the overall fuel efficiency of your vehicle by 1/3.
And then there’s that ugly feature of modern life – congestion. 1/6th of all the oil imported from the Gulf is wasted in traffic jams, which impacts national security and soldiers’ lives, as well as air quality and quality of life issues. Sure it takes a little work, but try and reschedule your daily commute or look for alternate routes. We recently took city streets rather than an extremely congested LA freeway and cut our drive time in half, even with traffic lights). And use public transportation, at least some of the time, if it’s available in your location. As a bonus you can read, work or rest and avoid a bit of stress - always something to aim for.
The residents of Portland, Oregon (which has a very efficient public transportation system and a very dedicated cycling community) have cut car trips by 20%, resulting in an average household saving $2,500 a year—that’s pretty amazing.
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