The following exercise may be uncomfortable, but let’s give it a try. Imagine going through a normal day without using any gasoline. As most vehicles on the road run on gasoline, your daily commute will prove to be nearly impossible. Let’s say you decide that commuting is too difficult without using gas, so you call work and let them know you won’t be in today. Running any errands is out, so you may as well do some work around the house, perhaps mow the overgrown lawn. Well, you better get the push mower out of storage, because without gasoline, your options are severely limited. Simply put, the use of gasoline is ubiquities in everyday American life, and its role will continue for the foreseeable future. OPEC estimates that 94 percent of cars will still run on gasoline in the year 2040. As gasoline is a limited resource, it is vitally important that we begin exploring ways to limit the amount of gasoline we use. One such idea is to improve fuel efficiency. The benefits to driving fuel-efficient vehicles are wide-ranging and significant.
One of the most obvious benefits to increased fuel efficiency is saving money. By replacing a clunker with a newer, more fuel-efficient model, drivers can accrue significant savings. According to Fueleconomy.gov, “A vehicle that gets 30 MPG will cost you $573 less to fuel each year than one that gets 20 MPG (assuming 15,000 miles of driving annually and a fuel cost of $2.29) Over a period of 5 years, the 30 MPG vehicle will save you $2,863.” Driving a fuel efficient vehicle also acts as an effective insurance policy against future spikes in the price of gasoline.
The potential economic benefits of increased fuel-efficiency are not limited to the individual. In fact, the benefits have the potential to positively affect the economy at large. In 2014 alone, the United States’ dependence on foreign oil cost the economy roughly $114 billion. Improving fuel efficiency can significantly reduce the amount of oil imported into the United States, and thus aid the United States’ economy.
Improved fuel economy can also have a significant impact on the environment. The less gasoline we burn by driving fuel-efficient vehicles means fewer harmful pollutants are emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere. Gasoline used for transportation purposes represent a large percentage of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. According to the EPA, “The combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel to transport people and goods is the second largest source of CO2 emissions, accounting for about 31% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 25% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2014.” The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, a leader in automotive research, finds that the best way to fight climate change is to drive fuel-efficient vehicles.
Whether your main concern is the economy or the environment, improving fuel-efficiency can make a universally positive impact. While we won’t likely run out of gasoline anytime soon, preserving this non-renewable resource has a variety of different benefits. By driving fuel-efficient vehicles in favor of gas guzzling clunkers, drivers can make a major impact on their personal finances, the nation’s economy, and the planet Earth.