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1. Drive smart. When you drive aggressively, you waste gas and put others at risk. Observe the speed limit, avoid rapid acceleration, don't jam on your brakes, and maintain a constant speed on the road.
2. Keep your car in shape. A well-tuned car burns less gasoline. So make sure that you get your oil and air filters changed regularly, and that your tires are always properly inflated.
3. Change your commute. Sitting in rush-hour traffic burns gas and gets you nowhere. If possible, adjust your work schedule so that you avoid the heaviest traffic. Even better, if your employer allows it, think about telecommuting. If you can't telecommute full-time, try for one or two days a week.
4. Never idle your car for more than 30 seconds. For every two minutes a car idles, it can waste as much fuel as it takes to travel an entire mile. Even the old practice of idling the engine to warm it up is not necessary with newer cars.
5. Try to combine errands. According to the US Department of Energy, several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
6. Walk or ride your bike. Rather than drive your car to the corner store or a friend's house, walk or ride your bike there. Studies show that this approach has the added advantage of reducing your risk of heart disease.
7. Carpool. Join (or start) a carpool or use ride-share programs if you can. This might also enable you to shorten the time of your commute by using High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.
8. Pack light. According to the US Department of Energy, a loaded roof rack on your car can decrease fuel economy by approximately 5 per cent. Also, every hundred pounds you carry in a typical car reduces its fuel economy by 1 to 2 per cent. So, when you go on vacation or another long car trip, put everything you can inside your vehicle, and pack light.
9. Think hybrid. The most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road today are hybrid-electric cars. A hybrid combines an electric motor with a conventional, but cleaner, gasoline-powered engine. Over its lifetime, a hybrid Toyota Prius will use half as much gas, and release half as much global-warming pollution, as a 23 mpg Pontiac Grand Prix.
10. Consider sharing. Rather than buy a new car, sign up for a car-sharing program such as Zipcar (www.zipcar.com), or one of the many local options available across the country (www.carsharing.ca). These programs allow you to reserve and drive cars by the hour – and they cover the cost of the vehicle, insurance, gas, parking and maintenance.
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Excerpted from Hey Mr. Green: Sierra Magazine's Answer Guy Tackles Your Toughest Green Living Questions by Bob Schildgen. Copyright 2008 by the Sierra Club. Excerpted with permission from Sierra Club Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced except with permission in writing from the publisher.