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Making Your Car More Carbon Friendly

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 21 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Carboncounted Co2 Carbon Dioxide

The vehicles we drive be they cars, vans, or even the big lorries that move things all over Europe, they are bad for the planet. We know that. We know they dump far too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and add to the total of greenhouse gases around the earth. But we don’t give them up. We can’t give them up.

We’ve become dependent on them to get us to work, to go shopping, for almost everything. We love them even though our British roads were never intended for so many of them, and we wait and curse in traffic jams almost every day. Given that we’re never going to abandon them, is there anything we can do to make sure they have less of an impact? Can we lessen the carbon footprint of our cars?

Luckily, there are ways you can do that – without having to replace your current vehicle.

Driving
One very simple way to reduce your emissions is to change your driving habits and drive more smoothly. Make sure you brake slowly and well in advance for traffic lights and roundabouts, and don’t roar away when you start. Use your gears well, shifting up before the revs get high, and don’t go so fast. Cars run much more efficiently at a speed of 55, believe it or not, than they do at 70. You might not arrive quite as quickly, but you’ll use less petrol, emit less carbon, and avoid any possible speeding tickets. Also, make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, which is another good way of saving petrol, and unless you need them, remove all those roof racks and carriers – they simply cause more drag. Do all that and you’ll make at least a small dent in your car’s carbon footprint.

When To Use Your Car
The less you use your car, the lower the emissions; that’s pretty obvious. If you can cut out the short journeys to the shops, and walk instead, that helps. But it’s the daily commute that’s the killer. It’s slow, and for most of us means city driving, which is the worst offender of all – all stop and start.

Try taking public transport when you can, or see if you can telecommute one or two days a week. If flex time is available, consider that. By changing your hours, you could find your commute is faster and more efficient on your car. Ride sharing is becoming more popular, too, and a way to keep cars off the road. If you can share a car with someone who’s driving close to where you work, that all helps the environment.

Your Car
Often we see cars as extensions of ourselves, and often we end up with cars that are bigger than we need, both in size and engine capacity. The smaller the engine, the less CO2 it’s going to emit. With insurance and road tax tied to engine size, it’ll end up saving you money too, which is an important consideration, given how much it costs to operate a car. If you’re in the market for a new car, go for something efficient – you might even look at the hybrid models now available which are far more carbon-friendly.

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