Here are several tips to help curb your dependence on petroleum, save on fuel and reduce emissions - all at the same time.
MAINTAIN YOUR VEHICLES
Proper Tire Inflation: Properly inflated tires last longer and help improve fuel economy. Every decrease in pressure by one pound per square inch for four tires can decrease fuel economy by 0.3%. Some vehicles utilize a tire pressure monitoring system as well, to alert the driver when tire inflation is low.
Use Recommended Motor Oil: By using the manufacturer-recommended oil, you will attain optimal fuel economy for your engine. For instance, using 10w30 motor oil in an engine that calls for 5w30 motor oil can decrease fuel economy by 1% to 2%. Likewise, using 5w30 motor oil in an engine that calls for 5w20 motor oil can decrease fuel economy by 1% to 1.5%. Consult your owner's manual for appropriate motor oil grade and specifications.
Regular Engine Maintenance: Modern engines are designed to run for many miles without the need for inspection or attention. However, it is always important to consult your owner's manual for recommended part replacements. Fixing neglected engine components can boost MPG, sometimes to the magnitude of 40%.
REDUCE EXCESSIVE IDLING
Auxiliary Power Units: These units are portable, vehicle-mounted systems that provide power for climate control and electrical devices in trucks, locomotives, and marine vehicles without idling. They are generally composed of a small internal combustion engine (usually diesel) equipped with a generator and heat-recovery system to provide electricity and heat.
Green Driving Strategy: Driver training can help reduce idling by teaching drivers good fuel economy driving behaviors and habits.
Stop-Start Controls: Various systems can be designed to turn the vehicle engine off when idling, such as at a red light.
Coolant Heaters: Larger vehicles often idle for their morning operation to bring the engine up to operating temperatures. It is possible to mount a heater in the engine compartment that uses gasoline or diesel from the fuel tank to heat the vehicle's coolant, and pumps the heated coolant through the engine, radiator, and heater box. Coolant heaters keep the engine warm, reducing the impact of cold starts. Alternatively, electric-powered engine block heaters can help reduce the need for idling.
RIGHT SIZE YOUR VEHICLES
Transition to Smaller, More-Efficient Engines: Using smaller engines and improving horsepower can help fleets meet operational needs without downgrading vehicle class. Some fleets choose to switch from 6-cylinder to 4-cylinder engines to help reduce fuel use and emissions.
Choose Lighter Vehicles: When purchasing new vehicles, look for opportunities to reduce vehicle weight. Lightweight materials and smaller components can improve fuel economy by up to 2% for every 100 pounds of weight reduced. Also try to avoid unnecessarily large body configurations and heavy accessories.
Use Alternative Fuels and Vehicles: Alternative fuel and fuel-efficient advanced vehicles can reduce or eliminate petroleum use and can be economical options for many fleets. Cost savings from vehicle maintenance, operation, and fuel use typically offset higher purchase prices.
CHANGE YOUR DRIVING HABITS
Slow Down: Speeding increases fuel consumption which lowers fuel economy.
Remove Excess Weight: Removing unnecessary items means less weight for your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2%.
Avoid Excessive Idling: An iidling engine achieves zero MPG, and can be a waste of fuel. A good rule of thumb is to turn off your engine if you expect to remain in "Park" for more than 10 seconds.
Graph Courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) are powered by an internal combustion engine or other propulsion source that can be run on conventional or alternative fuel and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. HEVs combine the benefits of high fuel economy and low emissions with the power and range of conventional vehicles.
A hybrid electric vehicle cannot plug into sources of electricity to charge the battery. Instead, the vehicle uses regenerative braking and the internal combustion engine to charge. The vehicle captures energy normally lost during braking by using the electric motor as a generator and storing the captured energy in the battery. The energy from the battery provides extra power during acceleration.
Hydraulic hybrid vehicles, or HHVs, use a pressurized fluid power source and a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE), to achieve better fuel economy. They capture and reuse 70%-80% of the vehicle's braking/decelerating energy compared to 25% for electric hybrids. For trucks and buses, this can also be less expensive than electric systems, due to the price of batteries required for the latter.