Fuel Economy: Green Means Go

Here’s how to find the right vehicle for your needs, save money with fuel economy and pollute less.

| October/November 2005

Buckle up, America — the era of cheap oil is over. Whether the road ahead for gasoline prices will be a steep climb or an undulating trip through peaks and valleys is anyone’s guess. But don’t expect to see gas prices drop below $2 a gallon ever again. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) projects the national average will remain above $2.20 per gallon through 2006. Odds are you’re already feeling the pinch of this trend — this summer gas prices were up about 35 cents per gallon compared to the summer of 2004.

Drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle, however, and you can save a substantial amount of money. Even if gas remains steady at $2.20 a gallon, annual gas expenses for a car that gets 25 miles per gallon (mpg) will total about $1,320. Switch to a 35-mpg car, though, and you’ll save $377 a year; a 50-mpg hybrid will save you $660 a year. Over a five-year period, the savings will add up to $1,886 and $3,300, respectively.

There also are benefits greater than saving money. “Choosing which vehicle to drive is one of, if not the, most important environmental decisions a person can make,” says James Kliesch, principal vehicle analyst for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and lead author of ACEEE’s annual environmental guide to cars and trucks.

So don’t settle for anything near the average U.S. fuel economy of 21 mpg. 

Greener Options in Every Vehicle

When shopping for a vehicle, you balance numerous considerations, including price, safety features, dependability, size and fuel economy. Which of these become most important depends on individual needs and preferences. In today’s market, though, you can find a model that provides what you need and want, and that is best among its competition with regard to emissions and fuel economy — the two dominant influences over an automobile’s environmental footprint.

“Within each vehicle class, there are a number of standout models that allow you to make an eco-friendly — or at least eco-friendlier — decision without sacrificing features,” Kliesch says. “First, consider your needs for the vehicle, as well as your price range. Once you have those down, begin shopping with the environment in mind.”

6/11/2007 2:35:56 PM

I am given to understand that the October 2005 edition of Mother Earth News contained an article on better gas mileage. If true, is ther a way of accessing that article? Thank you.

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