By: Sophie Evans
The environment is a hot issue that we just can’t afford to ignore any longer. To some, being environmentally aware is a way of life, a necessary and fundamental aspect of existence. To others being ‘green’ is something to aspire to, a lifestyle that with a bit of guidance could be achievable.
Young people have been brought up in a culture of ecological revelations, such as the depletion of the ozone layer and melting polar ice caps. We all know that these things are still happening yet we’ve still got a long way to go before the impacts of modern society on our planet are decelerated. Our parents weren’t particularly clued up about the effect that peoples’ actions have on their environment and recycling was certainly never an option in many houses in the 80s and 90s. However, these days we do have the resources and the knowledge to make little changes that can improve the planet for the better. If we can slow down on the road then we might be able to slow down climate change.
High levels of Co2 emissions are one of the biggest influencers of climate change and environmental damage. Exhaust emissions contain a myriad of chemicals which clog up the atmosphere and cause long term damage to our surroundings. Aviation contributes to a large proportion of the damage. Each jet requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel to get to its destination. Short of getting to your holiday resort by rail, a bit tricky if you’re off to the Maldives, there is little that you or I can do about aviation emissions. However, drivers can make a massive difference to the environment by taking a few steps to reduce their emissions and help reduce harmful pollution.
You can reduce the amount of fuel you use by up to 25% by changing some of your habits. Driving is expensive, with the cost of car insurance, road tax and fuel to consider. It’s not difficult to alter your lifestyle; we owe it to our future offspring and more importantly right now, we owe it to our pockets! Whilst we may not live long enough to see the benefit to the environment we can feel the immediate benefit to our pockets.
By being slightly more conscientious drivers we can all make a huge difference. Follow these tips from www.hootcarinsurance.co.uk and you’ll soon help protect the planet and feel the immediate payback in your pocket.
• Keep a steady speed when driving; by reducing the use of your pedals you reduce the use of fuel.
• Anticipate conditions, and accelerate and decelerate efficiently. This is safer and uses less fuel. It is also proven that you won’t get to your destination faster by speeding. According to Earteasy.com the most fuel-efficient speed for your car is roughly 55 mph, or 90 km/h. Increasing your speed from 55 mph to 75 mph boosts your fuel consumption a stunning 20 percent!
• If you are in traffic or caught behind railway gates, then turn off your engine. Idling uses up a great deal of fuel especially when some train gates stay down for as long as ten minutes.
• Keep your tyres pumped up to the correct level. This will save you up to 4% fuel.
• Maintain your car and change the air filter as recommended by the manufacturers’ guidelines.
• If at all possible, car share to work, this will save you money and give you a clear conscience! Some companies arrange car share schemes as do some local councils. See www.nationalcarshare.co.uk and www.liftshare.co.uk for more information.
• Walk to work if you live nearby. Not only will this keep you fit but you’ll also save fuel and money.
• Buy a car with a small engine. This will not only cut emissions but also means really cheap car insurance, cheaper tax and manoeuvrability in busy towns. Driving a 4×4 means 50% less fuel efficiency, so unless you are a farmer and regularly go off road, there really is no need to drive a gas guzzling vehicle in urban areas. By the way spray on mud is a dead giveaway!
So, we can all cut our costs and save the planet at the same time by making a few changes to the way we drive, but what about the future of fuel? Surely driving more slowly can’t be the only solution?
The future of travel
There are some innovative new energy solutions, new engine designs and hybrid car concepts which are set to take off in the years to come.
Hybrid cars are vehicles that have an ordinary combustion engine combined with another energy source such as batteries or electricity. The alternative energy source takes over from the engine when it is inefficient, such as during long slow drives. These hybrids are extremely efficient and half as polluting as normal cars with petrol engines. The good news is you don’t even have to change your beloved car because it can be converted as long as it’s less than six years old. This can be costly but long term it could save you money. There are also several government schemes running that can help you to convert your car. Some manufacturers have already caught onto the benefits of hybrid vehicles. For examples of hybrids look at the Toyota Prius, the Ford Escape and the Honda Accord to name but a few.
Electric cars may be the way ahead for city dwellers. With no emissions and using a quarter of the energy consumption of a similar sized petrol car they may revolutionise driving in the longer term. Although the cars currently on the market only drive at a maximum of 40 mph, they are exempt from tax, some congestion charges and great news for young people… they are in the lowest car insurance group. After the initial outlay of around £8,000 the car is cheap to run and extremely eco-friendly.
The future of fuel
Sulphur free fuel: We can expect to be able to buy this by 2008, in fact this will become compulsory by that date.
Biodiesel: This is a blend of 95% low sulphur diesel and 5% rapeseed oil. This reduces CO2 emissions by as much as 5% and can be used in an engine that hasn’t been converted to this type of fuel.
Bioethanol: Although this could take years to become widely available it produces less air pollutants and is renewable. It is made through the distillation of wheat, sugar or biomass. It can be used blended in unmodified engines or straight in modified engines.
The future of our environment is in our hands. If you can’t afford to buy a hybrid car or convert your engine, you can certainly make a start on your eco friendly lifestyle by following the driving tips above. It’s not too late to decelerate the impact of our polluting behaviour by decelerating our driving. It really is worth it for the future of the planet and for the health of our bank balances.
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