Save the world… Save the cheerleader

Cathy and I watched “An Inconvenient Truth” last weekend and it was really inspiring. Sure, it’s a glorified PowerPoint presentation but, with all apologies to Marshall McLuhan, in this instance the medium is not the message. So, I’ve tried to step up my looking for ways to help reduce my impact on our environment. My small steps may not make a HUGE difference but they’ll help and I can also help spread the word on my tiny little blog here. One thing that helps not just the environment but your pocketbook as well?

Stop idling the car!!

Studies have shown that idling the car for longer than 10 seconds is very wasteful. 10 SECONDS PEOPLE! That’s many stoplights out where I live, if I hit it right… wrong… umm, just as it changes to red. So, I’ve started to turn my car off when I think I can get away with it. The following link has more information and there’s a quaint, though low-budget (I love the squirrel), video that makes a good point as well.

(inspiration for this post) Homemade Hybrids – with the 10-Second Rule

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Using this 10 second rule can even save you gas. The person quoted in the story I linked to above said he got an extra 30 miles in one month. That’s an extra gallon in my car. $3.45 saved. Per tank. I go through a coupla tanks a month. That’s big bucks.

What else am I doing?

  • I’m starting to take lightrail more often into work
  • I don’t run the water in my shower waiting for it to get hot as long as I used to. I used to shave while waiting but it gets hot enough, fast enough, that I start the shower after shaving.
  • We’ve replaced standard lightbulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs in many places, though I think I know some places where we haven’t.

Little things, but things that help. You can too. So, if you find yourself idling your car, anywhere you’re going to be longer than 10 seconds?… A long stoplight… Waiting for the kids to come out of school… Tailgating… etc… Turn it off.

PS – What’s the deal with the title? If we save our world? We’ll be saving the lives of countless cheerleaders too. I, for one, am all for that! 🙂

4 Comments

  1. Hmm… you might be saving a little gas money in the short run turning off the engine, but in the big picture you’re not going to save much, if any. Lemme ‘splain: If you turn off the engine 10 times per trip, that’s 10 times the wear and tear on your starter and battery, which cost a considerable amount to replace unless you can do the repairs yourself. Yes, you might save some gas, but If everyone does this, how many more toxic car batteries end up in the landfills? Pick your poison.

    Also, if your engine is fully warmed up and you turn it off, the heat in the block is not dissipated by the coolant because the coolant is no longer flowing. I’ve seen cars overheat and blast coolant out of the radiator just after being shut off, as the water gets superheated in the engine block when it’s just sitting there without the flow to carry the heat away to the radiator. I certainly don’t have exact figures here but I’d guess you’re taking a few miles off your engine every time you do it. Heat kills motors.

    A more effective thing to do would be for people to stop doing the “warm-up” period for their cars. I’ve seen people leave their cars running for 20 minutes just so they don’t have to scrape the ice off the windows, or in the summer get into a hot car. That’s ridiculous. Stopping this practice universally would save FAR more gas. Or how many times do you stop at a rest area and hear the sound of 30 idling semis slowly wasting diesel for hours at a time? I know part of the reason is that they’re sleeping in there, but there are other ways to stay warm. Those drivers just don’t care because in most cases their gas is paid for by someone else.

    I do applaud your other efforts though; we also switched most of our bulbs to compact fluorescents. In fact, WEEK even came and did a story about it during an “money saving tips” sweeps series they were running. 🙂

  2. Hmm. Interesting. The article does mention the wear and tear on the starter being offset by the price in gas you are saving. Don’t know about the water thing because cars just work, right? 🙂

    And…

    What’s ice?

    heh. I had to.

    (e)

  3. My husband drives a manual Honda Insight which has an auto-off function for the engine during long idle-times. It’s seats only two; the back half of the car is battery, which I’ve been told costs about the same as the actual car to replace, however it charges along the drive.

    http://automobiles.honda.com/certified/model_overview.asp?ModelName=Insight&ModelYear=2006

    If we work on separate ends of town, I might need to get one of these myself. I can’t quite drive a stick-shift (without breaking out in hives), but for the mileage this car gets (66 miles to the gallon?!), I will try my darndest to learn!

  4. It’s another matter entirely to shut the engine off in a hybrid car that’s designed to do that. The engine is small and it’s engineered to (hopefully) not have the problems I described above. It’s also not working very hard since it works in combination with the electric motor and the car is very light. In fact, reading the link you provided, the electric motor that helps drive the car is actually also what is used to start the gasoline engine. So the whole thing is designed to be efficient and to put up with the rigors of starting and stopping a gasoline engine all the time.

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