Does Driving Matter?

Image by Daniel Truta

What is the most polluting activity that many of us do every day? Driving.

Cars, trucks, and other transportation are the biggest contributor to air pollution in the US. When vehicles burn gasoline they create nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and other pollution. This dirty air is harmful to people and the environment, both locally and globally.

According to the US EPA, new cars are 75-90% less polluting per mile than cars from 1970. But today more people drive than ever before. And air pollution from cars is even higher in urban areas– and the highest near major highways.

Over the next couple of posts, explore how to drive- and pollute- less. I wish my kids could telecommute for their after school activities, but apparently it doesn’t work that way!

For more information:;


Photo by Justin Helmick

Computers. Vending machines. Refrigerators. Washer/dryers. Ceiling fans. Pool pumps. What do these things have in common? Bingo- they all use energy. And you have most of them in your home. Different brands use different amounts of energy, so look at energy efficiency when you’re buying. You can find information on the bright yellow Energy Guide label or look for products that display the blue Energy Star logo.  It’s an easy peasy way to save energy without lifting a finger, or even having to think about it. And as energy prices go up, you’ll still be saving money & power!

Do your buying choices really matter? Remember, it’s not just you out there- it’s me and your neighbors and people all over the country. The ENERGY website says that,  “if all computers sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the savings would grow to:

  • More than $1 billion in annual energy costs per year
  • …the equivalent to the emissions from more than 1.4 million vehicles.”

And that’s just from computers! Every step you take helps you save money and reduce your impact on the environment.

In full disclosure, I worked with the Energy Star Buildings program from 1999-2004.


Cozy Quiz

 Have you turned down your thermostat yet? Remember, any step you take to turn down the heat is making the world a cleaner place (and saving you money)! See where you fall in this not-so-official rating system:

Novice: You turned down the heat from 75 to 72 and put on socks and long pants.

Intermediate: You set the thermostat at 68 during the day and put on a cute sweater or fleece. The heat goes even lower at night when you’re asleep, thanks to a programmable thermostat.

Pro: You crank down the heat and tell the family, “55, stay alive, people!”

During a recent polar vortex, an energy company had technical difficulties and couldn’t keep up with the extra power that was needed. They asked their customers to turn the heat down as low as possible. I wonder if more people have joined in if the power company asked everyone to lower their thermostats by 5 degrees instead? What would you have done?

If you’re asking, why save electricity?