Buying a New Car? Tips to Save Money, the Environment and Your Health
Searching for a new family roadster? As the green innovations of 2014 models abound, consumers have more energy-efficient vehicles and options to choose from, which means more price flexibility and a greater selection of options.
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Models range from seemingly typical cars sporting highly efficient engines to hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles that use no gas. According to Moms Clean Air Force, here are some tips for car shoppers and their families to help make the right choices:
Why Focus on Energy Efficiency?
Cars and trucks are major contributors to air pollution in the U.S. Also, studies, research and empirical data have linked air pollution to lung ailments, heart disease and climate change. Let's do the math: the more energy-efficient a vehicle is, the less fuel it burns. That means less pollution, less carbon, cleaner air, and healthier hearts. That also means more money saved at the pump with 45 to 50 miles per gallon versus 20 mpg driving one of those "regular" cars.
What Are the Moms Clean Air Force Most Energy-Efficient Models?
- All Electric – Cars that use the least amount of gas are those that don’t use any at all. These vehicles run solely on electricity. They can be charged on a regular household electrical outlet, with a range per charge that varies from 105 miles combined highway/city to 119. The average American drives 29 miles per day, a distance every all-electric vehicle on the market can easily achieve.
- Plug-In Hybrids – A plug-in hybrid can drive solely on electricity for anywhere from 20 to 60 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. Its battery is recharged when plugged into a regular 110-volt household current. If one typically commutes to work and takes the kids back and forth to after-school activities, the car could go all week without ever needing to stop at a gas pump, as its plugged in each night.
- Hybrids – Hybrids primarily rely on gasoline engines, supplemented by an electric battery that is recharged internally when the car brakes. Most auto companies make a hybrid, but, in some cars, the technology simply boosts the vehicle’s low mpg by just a few miles per gallon while taking advantage of marketing the car as "eco-friendly."
- Gasoline only – The federal government identifies the most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered vehicles as those that get at least 35 mpg when city and highway driving rates are combined. I personally recommend choosing a vehicle that gets at least 35 mpg in the city. That still gives consumers plenty of makes, styles and sizes to choose from at a variety of price points that compare very favorably to less fuel-efficient options.
What can average shoppers afford?
You may be able to reduce the price of a new car by qualifying for federal or state tax credits. Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. Here are the details.
Many states also offer incentives to encourage consumers to purchase highly efficient vehicles. Here’s what’s available in your state.
Don’t forget, how one drives also significantly affects how many mpg they get. These 10 tips will help improve mileage and save $20 to $50 a month on gasoline.
For more fuel efficient car tips, click the TLC video below:
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.