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Buying a New Car? Tips to Save Money, the Environment and Your Health

Health + Wellness

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.

Cars that use the least amount of gas are those that don’t use any at all. These vehicles run solely on electricity.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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:

Visit EcoWatch’s HEALTH and TIPS pages for more related news on this topic.

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