While no one can save the environment on their own, it is the collective effort that makes the difference. And one sure-shot way of reducing your carbon footprint is by not burning ancient dinosaurs in your gas-guzzling Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) car when commuting. Of course, you could get an electric vehicle and do your bit for the environment, but then, not all of us can afford one or get it easily. And if you recently purchased an internal combustion car, you might want to make the most out of it before your next car (because manufacturing new cars, even electric, isn’t that environment-friendly either and you should maximize the use from your current one before dumping it).
However, even though we might not be able to erase emissions from the tailpipe completely, I have found that sensible driving can significantly reduce that cloud of CO2 and other pollutants coming out of my car’s tailpipe. How? By driving at a constant speed and not revving the engine too hard.
You see, an ICE engine has a sweet spot where it delivers the maximum power without guzzling too much of fuel. It is usually between 2,000-2,500RPM for petrol engines and slightly lower for the diesel ones at around 1,500RPM. Having your car’s engine running in this range while being at the maximum speed possible will give you the best mileage. That speed is usually between 60-80kmph and anything above starts putting additional load on the engine that increases the fuel intake. This is why you really get a higher mileage in taller gears since your car is at a higher speed while consuming the same amount of fuel.
Additionally, driving at a speed of around 60-80kmph also ensures you don’t have to accelerate and brake too often, which again saves on fuel consumption. You lose momentum and waste energy when you brake and to get back to the same speed the engine has to drink a lot more fuel (thanks to inertia). In my experience, driving in this speed range results in minimal braking since people around me tend to drive at similar speeds.
I know, it sounds all good in theory, but then, I have some proof to back my claims. My office is an 11-kilometer commute from home and most of it is on a busy highway. I used to drive like an idiot till not too long ago, often reaching triple-digit speeds along the way in my petrol car. The mileage numbers that the MID churned out then were between 7-9 kilometers per liter at best. And we know how the MID exaggerates this figure by around 1-2 kilometer. Well, I changed my driving habits and started taking things a little slow. Driving on D7 (my car has a DSG) and not crossing 80kmph has resulted in that number shooting up to as high as 13 kilometers per liter on days when there’s little traffic (minimal braking). And this slow, but ecofriendly, commute only causes me to lose 5 minutes, at most, of my time, which isn’t a deal-breaker.
By driving sensibly, I’m able to almost reduce my carbon footprint while commuting by 70-80% and save equally in fuel costs. If that isn’t smart, I’m not sure what is. Of course, a better solution is to use public transport but that’s not possible all the time and my intent is not to lecture you on that topic.