ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bigfoot: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Smart Driving

Updated on June 9, 2011
daniel shea / flickr
daniel shea / flickr

Are You a Bigfoot?

We love our cars. We love to take road trips, go shopping, spend the day at the beach, and take in the sights, all from the comfort of our cars. It seems a safe, reliable and friendly way to get around, but in fact automobiles are the single largest contributor to carbon emissions.

The amount of global warming pollution coming from U.S. Cars is mind-boggling. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, our 2004 “carbon dioxide emissions from personal vehicles totaled 314 metric tons. That's equal to the amount of carbon in a coal train 55,000 miles long, enough to circle the world twice.” An average household with two mid-sized vehicles emits 20,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year, or 10 tons of pollution added to the layer of greenhouse gases forming a thick blanket around the earth and leading to climate change.

Putting the Brakes on Auto Emissions

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your personal carbon emissions by simply adjusting your driving and vehicle maintenance habits. By instituting these simple changes, you can increase the fuel efficiency of your car by as much as 30%, cut greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, and in the process, save hundreds of dollars per year in fuel costs. Furthermore, a link and details are provided at the bottom of this article to purchase carbon credits from, increasing your dedication to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

K2D2vaca / flickr
K2D2vaca / flickr

Drive Smoothly at Posted Speed Limits

When we press down on the gas pedal and let up, over and over, we burn more fuel. Instead, gradually increase your speed and maintain it at a steady level. Try to keep the vehicle moving at a consistent speed. Obeying the speed limit is also crucial. Increasing highway cruising speed from 55mph (90km/h) to 75mph (104km/h) can raise fuel use as much as 20%. Improve your gas mileage by driving at 55mph rather than 65mph. In addition, traffic lights are calibrated according to posted speed limits, so by driving at the limit rather than over it, you will hit fewer red lights. On the highway, use your “cruise control” if your car is equipped with one. This maintains a steady speed.

Avoid Idling

Idling wastes fuel and increases carbon emissions. If you are going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, unless you are in traffic, cut your engine off. It is a common misconception that a car needs to idle for a long period during cold weather before driving. In truth, although some older vehicles may require additional “warming up,” most cars should not idle more than 30 seconds before driving.

How to Check Tire Pressure and Inflate a Tire

Properly Inflate Your Tires

Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by 6%. Check the tire pressure at least once per month. First check them in the driveway noting any under-inflated tires, then drive to the gas station and check them again. Inflate the under-inflated tires to match the others, which will now be higher because the tires are warm. Consult your owners manual for the proper tire pressure and remember that radial tires can be under-inflated without appearing so. Also, never inflate your tires to the “maximum pressure allowed” stated on the side of your tire.

Choose the Octane Fuel Right for Your Car

Premium, high-octane fuels aren't necessarily the best for your car, and they don't provide any better fuel efficiency. Most vehicles are designed for low-octane fuels. Check your owner's manual to see which is best for your car.

Use the Air Conditioner Sparingly

Using your air conditioner on a hot summer day can cost you 10% in fuel consumption. Use the flow-through air vents if possible instead. At low speeds, open widows may reduce fuel consumption, but at high speeds, using the air conditioning may be more efficient, as open windows and a sunroof increase wind resistance.

Plan Your Trip

Can you get to your destination without using your car? Can you walk or ride a bike instead? Does public transportation go to where you need to go? Any of these methods will not only reduce carbon emissions, but are good for your health as well. In addition, plan your shopping trips to combine many errands on a logical route, which saves gas and time.

Teosaurio / flickr
Teosaurio / flickr

Service Your Vehicle Regularly

A well-tuned engine can increase fuel efficiency by a whopping 50% and decrease carbon emissions by 50%. Regularly change your air filter and your oil, using the oil with the correct viscosity according to your owners manual. If you change your own oil, dispose of your old oil properly, by dropping it off at a service station that changes oil or an oil change business. Call first to ensure they accept used oil for disposal. Most do.

Quick Trips

Power Accessories: Turn off all accessories such as the radio when turning off you car. If they are on when you start your car, they put extra demands on your alternator which then requires more fuel.

Tighten Your Gas Cap: According to the Car Care Council, loose, damaged, or missing gas caps cause 147 millions gallons of gas to evaporate every year. Tighten yours past the second click, or buy a new one.

Park in Shady Areas: This not only reduces the need for air conditioning, but minimizes gas evaporation as well.

Don't Carry Unnecessary Cargo: Carting around lots of items adds weight to your load and requires more fuel to move the car.  Empty the vehicle of all extranious items. 

Use a Block Heater: When temperatures drop to -20°C, use a block heater which keeps your engine oil and coolant warm, making it easier to start. Use a timer to start the heater 1 or 2 hours before you plan to drive.

Start With a More Efficient Car: The next time you are in the market for a new car, make the smart choice by choosing a vehicle with better fuel consumption. Look for the “EnerGuide” label posted on all new cars, or ask the dealer for the fuel consumption rating.

kimberlyfaye / flickr
kimberlyfaye / flickr

Buying Carbon Credits

By implementing these minor changes in your driving habits, you can significantly impact your cars' carbon emissions for the positive, resulting in fewer greenhouse gases which cause global warming.

To further influence your effect on the environment, consider purchasing carbon credits from Carbon Advice Group. What is a carbon credit? You can compensate for your unavoidable emissions by paying someone to make an equivalent greenhouse gas saving. This is called ‘carbon offsetting’. The first step is to determine your carbon footprint, and then purchase the necessary carbon credits to offset your footprint. The money used to purchase credits is invested in carbon reducing projects throughout the world. It may be simply planting trees or building a new recycling center in South America.

Carbon Advice Group ensures that you receive recognized and reputable credits, verified by the UN and meeting the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol. You can calculate your carbon footprint and purchase carbon credits for the project of your choice. What are you waiting for? Don't be a Bigfoot. Get started saving the environment by clicking on the link below.


More Great Carbon Emission Articles

For more information on the important topic of carbon footprints and carbon credits, please visit these articles: 

Ways To Improve Your Carbon Footprint in 2009 

Green Houses Gases Emissions

What's Your Carbon Footprint? 

Carbon Saving Lighting 


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)