Gas prices in all but one state are now above $3.50 a gallon, prompting some drivers to search for better gas deals far from main roads. That may not be a terribly fuel- or time-efficient way to cope. So here are nine eco-friendly ways to save without guzzling gas. After all, it’s Earth Day.
1. Public transportation
While budgetary cutbacks have impacted public transportation, many cities and even rural areas offer some form of service. It might take longer to get around via buses, subways, and trains, but public transport allows you to leave that gas guzzler in the garage. Don't overlook other opportunities provided by public transportation. Freed from focusing on the road, you can get some work done, make new friends or catch up on email, Facebook, Twitter, and cat videos.
Rainy weather or winter storms make bicycling impossible in some locations, but peddling your way to work or around town during inclement weather is both cheaper and better for your body. Many places now offer bike lanes, making this form of transportation much safer. Bike libraries or leasing services are increasing in popularity, allowing you to either borrow a bicycle or pay a minimal fee. Some employers even encourage biking by providing a financial incentive and, on occasion, in-house showers with a more casual dress code.
Sure it's a bit more complicated to commute when you have to work around other people's schedules, but you'll also have access to those speedy carpooling lanes. Various cities offer government-organized carpool services, with some even providing the vehicle. As with public transport, you'll also have extra time to work, put on your makeup, text friends or simply lay back and take a nap. For help coordinating a carpool, check out PickupPal, which connects drivers with passengers through social networking tools.
We have legs and feet for a reason. Hit the pavement and get some exercise, whether by power walking, jogging, or simply sauntering.
These "mini-bikes" are popular in Europe because of super high gas prices. They're light, agile, and usually much less expensive than motorcycles. While you can't use a scooter on highways, they're perfect for short commutes or trips around town.
These new-age transport vehicles are considered somewhat geeky, but John Hinkenlooper was recently elected Colorado governor despite his propensity for Segways. They're great for getting around town and actually are quite fun to ride.
7. Shop online
Surfing the web for everything from groceries to clothes and auto parts allows you to cruise your favorite shops without wasting gas. With the increase in free shipping offers from stores like Lands' End and JCPenney, shopping online is even cheaper this year, and consumers have rapidly caught on. A sharp climb in the number of retailers offering free shipping deals helped boost online sales by 24 percent in 2010.
Skype, the "cloud," email and other 21st century innovations make it even easier to telecommute. Working just one or two days a week from home will cut your gas bill by roughly a fourth or fifth—not so shabby a savings! Consider hosting mandatory business meetings online using virtual platforms like GoToMeetings, which uses a web conferencing tool that allows attendees to share applications in real time.
9. Electric and hybrid cars
Kelley Blue Book recently rated the 2011 Nissan Leaf as first in its "Top 10 Green Cars for 2011." The Leaf not only gets 73 miles per charge (the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon), but it's also made with recycled materials. (Just thought you might like to know that detail.) The 2011 Chevy Volt placed second as the "most fun" electrically driven car and the Toyota Prius, the original and most-popular hybrid, rounded out the top three. Click here for the complete list.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer-savings expert. She has been featured on NBC's Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW, and many more.