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Tips for reducing your summer travel impact

Posted in NEWS on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

[Originally published by MyVU]

Vacation season is here, and you can reduce your environmental impact with these handy, sustainable travel tips.

Car travel

If you are planning a road trip this summer, you will naturally want to reduce the amount of money you spend on gas – but don’t forget that reduced gas usage also means reduced emissions to the environment. A recent study conducted by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that following these simple measures can help drivers reduce their gas usage, resulting in less environmental impact and more cost savings:

  • A rooftop cargo box decreased an SUV’s fuel economy by 9 percent and a sedan’s fuel economy by 22 percent.
  • Low tire pressure (50–75 percent of the manufacturer’s recommendation) resulted in up to 10 percent fuel economy penalties.
  • Driving with all four windows down decreased fuel economy by 4–8.5 percent for a sedan, and 1–4 percent for an SUV.
  • Towing a 3,500-pound enclosed cargo trailer resulted in fuel economy penalties ranging from 30 percent in city driving to 50 percent highway driving at 80 mph for an SUV.

According to the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, every five miles per hour over 60 miles per hour when traveling is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas. If possible, consider using cruise control to help you maintain your constant speed and, in many cases, save gas. Any gas savings also reduces your emissions and lessens your impact on the environment. More information about vehicles and fuel economy is available at http://www.fueleconomy.gov.

Air travel

Flying instead of driving? Consider reducing the carbon emissions that result from your flight by purchasing carbon offsets, available at carbonfund.org or TerraPass. Once at your final destination, choose public mass transportation instead of an individual taxi or rental car. If traveling a short distance, consider walking or biking to get some exercise. Many U.S. and international cities now have bike share programs that are available for public use, such as Nashville’s B-cycle and Nashville GreenBikes. If you must rent a car, opt for the smallest vehicle that can accommodate your needs comfortably. You’ll get better gas mileage and avoid harmful emissions while saving money. Several rental car companies now have “green car” or “green fleet” rental programs that designate cars that are the most environmentally friendly, such as hybrids.

Bus or train travel

Particularly when traveling alone, consider going by coach bus or train instead of your personal vehicle. Not only will you decrease greenhouse gas emissions by sharing your ride with many others and save on the cost of purchasing gas and wear and tear on your personal vehicle, you’ll also get to sit back and relax rather than do the driving yourself. Many coach buses and trains today are equipped with wireless access and movies for your entertainment while on board. Visit the Greyhound Bus Lines, Megabus, Coach USA, Trailways or Amtrak websites to view options that may be available to and from your planned destination.

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