Director of Transportation and Buildings Policy, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
As we head into the summer driving season, you can cut your gas costs by a quarter or more, and emit less pollution, by “smart driving” – maintain your car well, keep to the speed limit, accelerate less, and idle only when necessary. Every gallon of gas emits about 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.
The U.S. energy (DOE) and environmental (EPA) agencies estimate that you can cut gas use 8% to 9% through good maintenance practices. These include using the recommended grade of oil, tuning your engine and replacing air filters at the proper times, and keeping your tires inflated correctly. Just having the right tire pressure can save up to 3% of your gas. You can also save on gas by buying tires that have higher efficiency. While at present there is no central source for finding such tires, some manufacturers have models that they market as being high efficiency – search for them on the web.
For the greatest savings, follow the example of the office supply chain Staples, which reports that it has cut diesel fuel use on its nationwide fleet of delivery trucks by more than 25%, through limiting their speed and acceleration and minimizing idling time. The graph shows how miles per gallon (MPG) varies with speed – you get the best MPG between around 40 to 60 miles per hour, with gas use increasing rapidly at higher speeds. Accelerating quickly and braking hard also uses a lot of gas. Driving more gently will save you money.
A few other easy ways to improve MPG:
• Don’t store extra weight in your car.
• Remove unused roof or rear racks.
• When using air conditioning, use the “recycle inside air” setting, so that the car does not have to continually cool hot outside air.
• Don’t keep the car running (idling) unnecessarily.
The Mass. Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) Smart Driving brochure is here.
If you’re in the market for a new or used car, remember that MPG varies widely, even for similarly-sized cars.
Of course you can also save gas by getting around through other means than one person in a car. Information on carpools and vanpools is available through MassDOT’s MassRIDES program. Or, check out Info on public transit for the Boston metro area , regional transit systems throughout the state, and bicycle trails.
Summer’s Here: Shed Layers and Shed Loads posted on Jul 11
Electricity usage throughout New England reaches its peak during summer heat waves, causing our electricity bills to spike. During periods of high demand, electric utilities typically call on more expensive “peaking” plants to provide extra power. These costs are passed onto larger, non-residential consumers through demand charges on their monthly electricity bill. Municipal buildings can save a significant sum of money if they shut off portions of their electricity during these peak periods.
Massachusetts Rebates Supercharge Electric Vehicle Market posted on Jul 7
The MOR-EV initiative provides rebates of up to $2,500 for electric, fuel cell vehicles and plug-in vehicles with large batteries, and $1,500 for plug-in electric vehicles with smaller batteries. All Massachusetts residents are eligible to receive incentives on purchased and leased new electric vehicles until the rebate funds are gone.
Community Adoption of Energy Efficient Building Codes Stretches to 143 posted on Jul 2
Eight more municipalities (Dalton, Goshen, Halifax, Holliston, Upton, Wellfleet, Lanesborough, and Stoughton) recently adopted the Stretch Energy Code, criterion five for Green Community designation, and will now work to ensure that new construction and major renovations are more energy efficient. With these additions, the total number of participating municipalities has reached 143.