Stuck in traffic
If you do find yourself stuck at a long stop light, Craig Howie of AOL Auto suggests simply turning off the engine.
As Howie notes, several police departments have started prohibiting their officers from idling patrol cars at traffic stops and crime scenes. Regular drivers can also save by switching off the engine at long lights, when waiting in heavy traffic or when waiting to pick someone up.
An even better tip from Howie involves a little more work and planning. He suggests lightening the load your vehicle is hauling and combining trips.
"Clearing all that junk out of your car -- in some cases heavy junk like golf clubs, car parts or kids' toys -- can result in significant savings," he said. "The EPA estimates that for every 100 pounds of weight your car carries, fuel efficiency dips by 2 percent."
Starting and stopping for separate trips to the grocery store, salon and video store uses up more gas and is worse for the environment, Howie said. Vehicles emit more pollutants in the first minutes after startup, as their emissions systems haven't fully warmed and are functioning less efficiently.
But what about the car?
Not every green driving tip focuses on changing your driving habits. There are steps you can take with your vehicle that will help save you some green and the environment at the same time.
The website FuelEconomy.gov, a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, stresses the importance of keeping your engine properly tuned.
The site suggests that a properly-tuned engine can provide efficiency savings of 4 percent. Checking and replacing air filters provides another 10 percent and proper tire pressure 3.3 percent. Using a motor oil that says "energy conserving" on the API performance label can give you another 1 to 2 percent in efficiency savings.
And even when and how you fill up your car can play a part.
AAA suggests the best time to fill your car is at cooler temperatures. That's because gas fumes heat up at warmer temps and create ozone. AAA also recommends against topping off the tank, which can release gas fumes into the air, canceling the benefits of the gas pump's anti-pollution devices.
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