carpool lane

5 Simple Ways to Green Your Commute and Save Money

By making small changes to the ways we get to work or school (and everywhere else in between), we can make big improvements to our level of impact on the environment. To ensure the air stays clean and healthy for future generations, it’s critical for commuters to make every effort to reduce vehicle carbon emissions.

You may be thinking, ‘easier said than done,’ right? Yet, the truth is, making small changes isn’t as difficult as you might think.

A little bit of extra planning can go a long way.  In fact, taking the time to change bad commuter habits and being conscious of contribution to good or bad air quality can save money and time, not to mention extend the life of your vehicle and enhance the quality of life within the local community. These simple steps will help you create a much greener plan for beginning and ending your daily commute.

brakeSlow Down

Research shows that driving fast actually wastes fuel, increases harmful emissions, and lowers a vehicle’s fuel-efficiency. Cruise control can help restrain even the fastest of drivers and save valuable gasoline in the process. According to the Clean Air Force, exceeding the speed limit by just 5 mph in highway traffic can create a fuel-economy loss of about 6%. Routine use of cruise control however, can reduce fuel consumption and toxic emissions by as much as 10% for the average driver.

Use the Buddy System

According to The Nature Conservancy, 23 billion gallons of gas are wasted every year in rush hour traffic alone — all by Americans who choose to drive solo. The truth is, there couldn’t be a better time to start a carpooling movement. The cost of wasted fuel pales in comparison to the harmful emissions and air pollution sustained during gridlocked traffic. Help reduce pollution (and save money) by partnering with a friend or co-worker to create a weekly carpooling schedule. By getting involved in carpooling, the average commuter can save about $800 per year in fuel costs.

Work Longer Days (and fewer too!)

Instead of working five eight-hour days, consider talking to your boss about switching to four ten-hour days. By adopting this schedule, you can reduce your yearly commuting costs by 20% and while you’re at it, possibly end up with a three-day weekend.  Win-Win. When talking to your boss, stay focused on the positive difference you’ll be making for the company and your local community. Extending the traditional work day allows you to push through projects, completing them in less time. Reducing the overall time your vehicle is on the road lessens the amount of harmful carbon emissions and helps enhance the quality of life in the community in which your company is located.

Another alternative would be to ask your boss to consider letting you work remotely from home 1-2 days per week.

birmingham busTry Mass Transit

Public transit is another great option. With someone else doing the driving you have a little more free time to read the newspaper or enjoy a cup of coffee without the burden of having to concentrate on the road. On average, paying for daily bus fare is far less expensive than filling your own vehicle’s tank with gasoline, and purchasing parking permits and car insurance in order to commute.

Find Fewer Reasons to Drive

At the beginning of the week, make a list of all the errands you need to run, groceries you need to buy, and engagements you need to attend. Write down your work schedule and see where there are gaps. Consolidate the list into as few trips as possible and you’re likely to find yourself enjoying more free time and extra money in your wallet. For example, students can consider taking online classes instead of driving to campus. Small changes like this can reduce daily or weekly commuting, which helps the planet (and its residents) breath easier.

Helpful Hints:

CommuteSmart offers tons of great tips and helpful advice for changing commuter routines. Visit www.commutesmart.org to try the free Commute Calculator. You can quickly see how much your commute is costing and how much you could save by making some of these greener changes.

CommuteSmart is also willing to pay $1 per day for carpooling, taking transit, biking or walking to work (up to a certain amount of days). The Get Green program pays up to $70 for commuting smart, and you can also earn a $25 gift card by taking 20 alternative commutes over three months. Find out the details at ww.commutesmart.org/birmingham/incentives.

If you need help finding a ride or organizing a carpool system, Commute Smart’s ride matching service may work well for you. Register for a match-up here.

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