Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Driving Report: Tips for Saving Gas

Category: Little Things,Take Actions,Tips,Transportation – Tom Harrison – 10:18 pm

If you are on the road this Thanksgiving, consider this fact from the US Department of Energy: “Idling gets you 0 miles per gallon”. In fact, idling for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than turning the car off then on as needed. So if you are waiting in long lines of traffic approaching tolls, or waiting in line for fast-food, consider turning off the engine. Be safe, and don’t gun the engine to make up for being behind, but turning off the engine to avoid idling does actually make sense in some cases. Also, if you have an automatic transmission, putting the car in neutral while you are stopped or coasting is a good middle ground. Hey, at least it’s something to do while you wait :-)

Of course, if you had a hybrid car, the engine would turn off automatically (it’s a bit strange until you get used to it). A year or two ago, I recall being in a long, slow-moving line of traffic on Thanksgiving, during which the engine never switched on once for over 20 miles.

And, when you get home, or are at the mall, remember, idling the most efficient car out there gets you worse mileage than the least efficient moving vehicle. Please, don’t “warm up” your car by starting it and idling for “a few minutes” — the real reason people do this is to have a nice warm car to get into as they start their commute in the cold winter months. There’s some old car lore that people rationalize this with, suggesting a benefit to the engine, but this is not true. Idling just wastes gas, just like turning on the water in your shower until the bathroom is nice and steamy, which apparently some people also do.

Have a happy thanksgiving!


  1. […] The E-Z Pass electronic toll collection tag saved gasoline on our trip home this Thanksgiving. That’s my claim, and I’m sticking to it. The first way E-Z Pass saves gas is that you don’t have to bring your car to a complete stop and then accelerate back to highway speed. But based on my prior Thanksgiving driving trips I think there is a potentially much larger savings. In the past, we have waited in long toll lines during peak traffic hours. During this time, the car is idling; idling cars waste, not save gasoline. […]

    Pingback by Save Gasoline with E-ZPass Electronic Toll Collection | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — November 25, 2007 @ 6:34 pm

  2. […] major unrealized cost is the additional CO2 pollution created by larger numbers of cars, and longer times idling on the roads. Both are […]

    Pingback by Congestion Pricing: Simplicity is the Key | Five Percent: Conserve a Little Energy — April 15, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

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