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Drive Smarter for the holidays

 Posted by on November 5, 2009
Nov 052009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

The Alliance to Save Energy is promoting its Drive Smarter Challenge in anticipation of Americans being on the move for the holidays. The challenge offers tips to bolster your mileage and other ways to trim transportation costs, some more effective (rent a hybrid) than others (use the right oil for a 2 percent improvement in mileage).

Drive SmarterBut even though these travel tips are wildly divergent – take a train, drive during off-peak hours – they should get most families thinking about conserving in these still-tough economic times.

The Drive Smarter Challenge website offers some concrete help (get it?) with advice for creating a customized map for your route that identifies stops with inexpensive gas. The info page sends you to MapQuest’s Gas Prices, which samples prices around the country, finding, for instance, that Northfork W. Va. has gas for $1.99 a gallon (which is an interesting factoid but unhelpful if your relatives live in Missoula.

Drive Smarter also points you toward, which lists local gas prices for dozens of cities in the US and Canada and shows regional trends. (And yes, there’s a mobile phone app.)

Type in your city or destination at Gas and you can get a read-out of the “Lowest Regular Gas Prices in the Last 24 Hours.” Checking for Chicago that turned up gas prices ranging from $2.89 a gallon at a Shell and a Gas Depot on the Northwest side to $3.29 at a Citgo at DesPlaines and Taylor streets. The difference is probably not worth driving to a station outside of your neighborhood, for goodness sakes.

So what to do with this information?

It could conceivably help you decide whom in your clan to grace with your presence this holiday. Got relatives in Houston? It’s cheaper to drive there ($2.34 to $2.38 for a gallon of petrol) than to visit those fossil-fuel fancy pants in San Francisco ($2.87 to $3.49). Of course, once you get to the Bay Area you can at least take public transportation, something Houston is still working on.

Okay, so the price of gas probably won’t dictate where you go this holiday.

But it could be one thing on a list of ways you tighten up your energy profile.

Along with all the tips about how to make your car run more efficiently (inflate the tires, don’t idle, don’t drive like a jackrabbit), The Drive Smarter Challenge recommends that you incorporate public transportation, biking, walking or ride sharing in your travel plans.

Now there’s a smart driving plan: Don’t drive.

(The Drive Smarter Challenge campaign is hosted by the Alliance to Save Energy, but it has many other partners, from the American Petroleum Institute to the League of American Bicyclists.)

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