Ten Ways You Can Start to Cut Petroleum Use Right Now

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1. Behave yourself

Small changes in driver behavior can have big impacts on fuel economy. By breaking bad habits like jackrabbit starts, speeding, aggressive driving, and carrying unnecessary cargo, drivers can reduce fuel use by 10% to 20%. Check out the Driving Behavior section on the AFDC to find tips for fleets and individual drivers.

2. Follow the leaders Thousands of fleet managers, business owners, state and local officials, and other transportation decision makers across the country have blazed the trail toward petroleum-free transportation, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Before you undertake an initiative of your own, find out how others have successfully deployed alternative fuels, pushed the envelope on fuel economy, and achieved fleet efficiencies. The AFDC features dozens of case studies, which you can search by geographic location, fuel or technology type, or fleet type.

3. Explore the alternatives

When it comes to fueling your fleet, gasoline and diesel aren't the only options out there. It's possible to achieve emissions reductions and/or cost savings by using alternative fuels like propane, natural gas, electricity, biodiesel, ethanol, and hydrogen. Take a spin through the AFDC Fuels and Vehicles section to explore which might work best for you. Building your familiarity with alternative fuels today is an important first step in creating a solid plan for the future.

4. Connect with Clean Cities

 If you're looking to leave petroleum in the rearview mirror, don't go it alone. The U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program has nearly 100 local coalitions of fleets, fuel providers, businesses, utilities, and government agencies all dedicated to reducing petroleum use in communities from Honolulu to Houston to Hartford. Tap into an unbeatable source of transportation know-how and networking by connecting with the Clean Cities coalition nearest you.

5. Don't sit idle

An idling vehicle gets 0 mpg. Yet drivers in the United States waste billions of gallons of fuel every year by running their engines while going nowhere. Reducing idling time has many benefits, including reductions in fuel use, fuel costs, emissions, noise, and engine wear. See the AFDC's Idle Reduction section to find strategies for light-, medium-, and heavy-duty vehicles.

6. Get the most bang for your buck

 Fuel economy upgrades and transitions to alternative fuels generally involve some upfront costs. And in times of tight budgets, you need to find ways to stretch each dollar you spend. Visit the Laws and Incentives section of the AFDC to search for state and federal programs that can help.

7. Take your measurements

Substantial gains in fuel economy can be had just from choosing the right vehicle for the job. It doesn't pay to use vehicles with substantial towing and hauling capacity, high passenger counts, or four-wheel drive for tasks that don't require such capabilities. Take an inventory of your fleet's duties to determine whether you have opportunities to shed some weight. You'll be ready to select the most fuel-efficient vehicle available for a given application the next time you make an acquisition.

Find out more in the AFDC's Rightsizing section. Use the Find A Car tool on FuelEconomy.gov to make side-by-side comparisons of fuel economy ratings and emissions scores of individual vehicle models.

8. Got E85?

Reduce petroleum use by taking advantage of resources you already have. Many light-duty vehicle models come standard with flex-fuel capability, meaning they can run on ethanol-gasoline blends as high as 85% ethanol. Most flex-fuel vehicles have an E85 sticker inside the fuel door, yellow fuel caps, and/or external decals or badges to indicate the vehicle can run on E85.

If you do have flex-fuel vehicles, use the AFDC's Alternative Fueling Station Locator to find stations near you that provide E85, or map a driving route with E85 station locations identified along the way.

9. Drive on biodiesel

Using biodiesel in place of petroleum-based diesel reduces emissions and petroleum dependence. Biodiesel can be used in most newer models of heavy-duty and light-duty diesel vehicles without modification, and all manufacturers have approved the use of B5 (5% biodiesel, 95% petroleum diesel) with no impact to warranties. Use the AFDC's Alternative Fueling Station Locator to find stations near you that provide biodiesel, or map a driving route with biodiesel station locations identified along the way.

10. Ask for help

If you're still not sure how to move your petroleum-use reduction into high gear, contact us. The Clean Cities Technical Response Service can provide customized assistance to help you troubleshoot, identify relevant research and publications, and put you in touch with fleets that have tackled challenges similar to your own. Call 800-254-6735 or email technicalresponse@icfi.com. We look forward to helping you.

For further information, please visit: http://www.afdc.energy.gov/feature_ten.html

Source: U.S Department of Enerfy, Alternative Fuels Data Center

Troy Tournat