Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Day Fifty-Three - Idle Chatter

Turn Off the Car When Idling

Here we go again, another post on reducing gas consumption. Sorry to all you folks who use public transportation, but as you know, I don't have that option where I live so I do what I can to conserve gas.

The gas mileage on my minivan averages between 19-25 miles per gallon, depending on how I drive, road conditions, traffic congestion, tire inflation, and many other factors. During an average run around town, the mileage can vary greatly. At no time, though, is it lower than when I am just idling. Sitting there, with the engine running and wheels stopped, my gas mileage drops to zero. zilch. nada.

Now before you start switching off the ignition at every stop sign and traffic light, let me make a safety note here. DO NOT SHUT OFF YOUR ENGINE WHILE IN TRAFFIC! I'm talking about the time spent in the McDonald's drive-thru, at the bank teller window, in line at the drive-up pharmacy or even just "warming up" on a cold winter morning. I don't know about you, but I bet I average about 30 minutes per week, just sitting in the car, going nowhere, with the engine running.


According to an article on, where they tested gas-saving tips, you can save you up to 19% by avoiding excessive idling. Another article published by Hamilton County Environmental Services gave me the math for the following calculations: The cost of idling my minivan for those 30 minutes is equal to 0.078 gallons of gasoline, or a little over 1.75 pounds CO2. In one year of idling, that equates to over four gallons of gas, or 91 pounds of CO2.

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

The only reason I didn't give this one a "1 out of 5" is because, after 20 years of idling, I know it's going to be difficult to remember to shut the car off. Like all habits though, it can be changed and I'll be well on my way to saving another 100 or so pounds of CO2 each year. :-) And as Martha Stewart used to say, "That's a very good thing".

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