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Monday, June 16, 2008

State offers fuel-efficiency tips, we offer some more

Some tips courtesy of Conserve Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue's newest initiative aimed at educating Jaw-juhns of the many ways we can create a more sustainable state.

  • Drive sensibly: Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds. Drivers can save up to 80 gallons of gasoline ($302) by driving sensibly on the highway. Around town, sensible driving can save five percent, up to 30 gallons of gasoline ($113).
  • Gas station sign in Hepzibah, Ga.

  • Choose the right vehicle: If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better gas mileage whenever possible.

  • Reduce trunk loads: An extra 100 pounds in the trunk cuts a typical vehicle’s fuel economy by up to two percent. Removing an extra 100 pounds of unneeded items from your trunk can save up to 12 gallons of gasoline per year ($45).

  • Decrease speed: Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly over 60 miles-per-hour (mph). Each five mph over 60 equates to paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.

  • Avoid idling: Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.

  • Inflate your tires: Keeping tires properly inflated improves gas mileage by approximately three percent, saving up to 20 gallons of gasoline ($75).

  • Tune up: Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of four percent, saving up to 25 gallons of gasoline ($94). Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent (saving up to 250 gallons or $945).

  • Select the right oil: Using the manufacturers recommended grade of motor oil, including refined motor oil, improves gas mileage by one to two percent, an annual savings of more than $40.

These are all well and good. But like a bunch of Ritalin-fueled cleaning ladies, we can do more. From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenwheatley, I offer the following tips:

  • Check the A-TRAIN Trip Planner, the online navigation tool that'll literally show you the path to the city's transit options.

  • If you're in the market for a new vehicle, buy a hybrid. Or one of those tiny, funny looking cars. The AJC says people will giggle. If you're shy it might help you make friends. Energy-supply crunches are great ice breakers!

  • If you live intown, ride a bike. If you live along transit intown but want something that'll get to those in-between spots, think about a Segway. Or get a scooter. A co-worker here says his meep-meep machine gets 70 miles a gallon. Yes, it only has one gallon, but that's roughly $4 a week to get him to work and back home.

"But wait, Mrs. Frankenwheatley!" a voice cries out from the smog. "Public transit doesn't serve my area! I don't have the money to purchase a hybrid! People throw cans at me when I ride a scooter!"

Well, then click here to find your local elected official and tell them how you feel. Be sure to ask those who are running for election as well. Tell 'em you want tax incentives and rebates. Make it clear what you want in terms of transit. Heck, maybe you want them to drill for oil — although come on, really? But get involved. Give them your ideas and hold them accountable. And don't forget to vote.

(Fictitious gas-station sign created at Atom Smasher)

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