Six degrees of saving energy

How much does a year of power cost an American family? According to the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE, a "a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders"), on their 6 Degrees of Energy Efficiency website, the average was nearly $5,000 in 2006 (this is power for homes and vehicles and is 32 percent higher than just two years ago). Want to reduce that number, the ASE suggests a bunch of ways to do so, and their fourteen vehicle-specific tips are after the jump.

The ASE also offers a six-question "Test your 'Energy IQ' quiz - I sure felt silly for getting three wrong. And the other bit of the "six degrees" angle - ASE wants you to participate in the social side of 6 Degrees by getting your friends involved in saving energy.

[Source: Alliance to Save Energy]
As Gasoline Prices Rise, Alliance to Save Energy Urges Drivers to Be More Fuel Efficient, Take '6 Degree Challenge'

WASHINGTON, March 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As gasoline prices rise leading into the heavier summer driving timeframe, tensions continue to flare in the Middle East, and environmental concerns are on the front burner, the Alliance to Save Energy urges drivers to operate more fuel efficiently to cut energy bills, energy use, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions as well as to improve our economic and energy security.

The Alliance also challenges consumers across the nation to "Test your 'Energy IQ' and take the 6 Degrees of Energy Efficiency Challenge" at

To create a multiplier effect by challenging consumers to take at least one energy-efficiency action and challenging their friends to do the same, the Alliance, American Gas Association, The Dow Chemical Company, and 29 other diverse profit and nonprofit "Power is in Your Hands" campaign partners launched the unique 6 Degrees Challenge social website. The site shows how our energy waste affects six key aspects of our lives -- the energy prices we pay at the pumps and in our homes, our home comfort, the air we breathe and our respiratory health, our energy security, our economic well-being, and the world we leave behind.

The Alliance also offers tips to improve gas mileage and lower payments at the pump:
  • Maintain your vehicle. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40 percent. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated to improve gas mileage by around 3.3 percent and also improve safety and tire life. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every 1 psi (pounds per square inch) drop in pressure of all four tires.
  • Use the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil to improve gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.
  • Idle minds and idling vehicles -- be mindful when behind the wheel. Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Obey the speed limit. It's safer and less expensive. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, each 5 mph over 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.
  • Curtail "road rage"/aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is safer, too -- so you may save more than gas money.
  • Are you carrying around too much excess "baggage?" Pack lightly when traveling, and avoid carrying items on your vehicle's roof. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk cuts a typical car's fuel economy by up to 2 percent.
  • Use cruise control to help cut fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving.
  • Combine errands into one trip to drive fewer miles, use less fuel, and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip when the engine is warmed-up and efficient.
  • Investigate other options for getting to work and other places -- carpooling, ridesharing, public transportation, biking, walking.
  • Telecommute or stagger work hours if your employer permits to avoid sitting in traffic and wasting gas, especially during peak rush hours.
  • If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better gas mileage whenever possible. If you drive 15,000 miles a year, driving a car that gets 20 mpg rather than 30 mpg will cost you nearly $650 more. That's approaching $2,500 extra in fuel costs in just four years!
  • Buying, leasing, or renting a vehicle? Select a model that gets better fuel economy. Check out, for information on fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Take advantage of 2007 federal income tax credits that reduce what you owe to Uncle Sam or increase your tax refund by $250 to $3,400 for purchases of hybrid-electric or diesel vehicles. Amounts are based on the vehicle's efficiency and fuel savings. Details in English and Spanish on the Alliance's website --
The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, economy, and national security.

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