How You Can Improve Outdoor Air Quality
This page was reviewed or revised on Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:08 AM
You can use less energy, save money and help save the environment when running your vehicle. Take a look at your own driving habits, vehicle maintenance practices and consumer behaviour and see if you can improve fuel efficiency by following some of these tips.
You can control vehicle costs and minimize emissions by making a commitment to drive less and to drive more efficiently.
The following tips can help you achieve this goal:
- Drive less: Walk or cycle when you have short trips to make. It is good for your health as well as the environment.
- Share a ride: If you use a car, don’t travel alone; encourage and facilitate carpooling and you’ll help reduce emissions by almost half.
- Trip chain: Combine your errands and you will save time, money and the air.
- Turn the key: Don't idle when stopped. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine. Turn your car off when you run into the corner store, coffee shop, or when you are picking up your kids or friends. Avoid drive-thru windows, especially when there are long line ups.
- Watch your speed: Driving at moderate speeds and avoiding starts and stops uses less fuel.
- Open a window: Try to limit the use of air conditioning in your car for local trips. To stay cool at highway speeds, use your car’s flow-through ventilation and use the air conditioning only as needed.
Keeping your vehicle in top operating condition will save you fuel and money, reduce your long-term maintenance costs and minimize harmful emissions.
Consider the following tips:
- Care for your car: Regular maintenance, oil changes, and properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage, extend your car’s life, increase its resale value, and reduce harmful emissions.
- Perform a monthly check: While most maintenance should be left to the professionals, you should perform a few simple checks once a month to help identify problems that can cost you fuel and money down the road.
- Refuel when it’s cool: Postpone refuelling your car until after 6 p.m. This reduces emissions during peak daylight hours when ozone formation is most likely to occur.
- Don’t top it off: Don't add gas after the pump automatically shuts off; this will avoid spills and unnecessary emissions.
Be Tire Smart – Play your PART is a national educational campaign designed to encourage Canadian motorists to adopt good tire maintenance practices. Visit their website for more information, including how to properly measure tire pressure.
Fuel consumption can vary widely from one vehicle to the next. Whether you're buying new or used, the choices you make today will either save you money (through reduced fuel consumption) or cost you money for years to come.
- Shop green: If you're buying a new vehicle, check the EnerGuide label for its fuel consumption rating. EnerGuide labels are now affixed to all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada. Fuel consumption ratings for all new cars, light-duty trucks and vans sold in Canada are also available in the free Fuel Consumption Guide.
- Think small: Consider buying a smaller vehicle. A typical SUV uses almost twice the fuel and releases nearly twice the emissions of a modern station wagon and both seat the same number of passengers. Also, smaller engines generally deliver better fuel economy than larger engines.
Ontario ’s energy comes from various sources including gas, oil and coal-fired generators, each of which emits pollutants.
There are several steps you can take at home and at work to minimize your energy use:
- Use energy efficient appliances. Compare EnerGuide ratings. When you see ENERGY STAR on an EnerGuide label, you can be sure that the product is among the most energy efficient available.
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© Reproduced with permission of the Minister of Natural Resources, Canada 2005.
- Turn air conditioners up, even one or two degrees, to significantly reduce energy consumption.
- Insulate your home. It will reduce summer cooling costs and winter heating bills.
- Install a programmable thermostat. They can be set to adjust the temperature setting according to a user's schedule, thereby saving energy.
- Turn the lights, computers and TVs off when you leave the room.
- Buy ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulbs for frequently-used lights in your home.
- Seal the windows and doors in your home so air drafts can't get in or out around the edges.
Here are some other tips to help you to reduce harmful emissions to the air:
- Avoid using aerosol sprays and cleaners, oil-based paints, and pesticides. Solvents containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are commonly used in consumer and commercial products as a vehicle for product application, but then evaporate to the atmosphere and contribute to smog formation.
- Avoid using garden tools that run on gasoline (lawnmowers, leaf blowers). These machines emit much higher amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons than automobiles. The best option is to use rakes, push or electric mowers.