Tighten the Cap on Your Gas Budget

Posted by admin

With gas prices over $3.00/gallon for the entire year, it’s hard not to cringe while filling up your tank. As everyone’s looking for ways to save, here are some tips on how to save gas so that your trips to the gas station are not quite as frequent.

Maintain your vehicle – Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines. By regularly checking the condition of your air filter, vacuum and coolant hoses, oil, oil filter, fluids, belts, tires, etc. you will ensure that your car gets the best possible fuel economy. To sign up for a chance to win $300 in vehicle maintenance, go to Maintenance Matters

Avoid idling – If you are going to be in one place for more than 60 seconds, consider turning off your engine. Despite popular belief, idling uses more gas than restarting the engine. Instead of letting your car “warm up” in the wintertime, pull on some gloves and a coat and start driving. Your car will warm up much faster when it’s in motion. Another suggestion is to bypass the drive-thru line and go inside. Often times, this is a quicker option anyway.

Use alternate forms of transportation – Whenever possible walk, ride your bike, take a bus, or carpool. Although at times it may seem like too much work or less convenient to leave your car behind, just think about the impact it can have on your wallet and your health. If you’re not familiar with public transportation in your area why don’t you spend a weekend exploring your town by bus? You may find things you’ve never seen before and you will become more comfortable taking public transportation at the same time.

Run all your errands at once – When running around town take a few minutes to plan your route out ahead of time. If it’s close enough to walk between places, park your car and go on foot. If you don’t particularly enjoy walking make it worth your while by stopping at a coffee shop or ice cream parlor along the way. This will not only save you gas, but loads of time!

Learn to be a fluid driver – sudden stops and starts put more strain on your gas tank as well as your vehicle as a whole. By gradually starting and trying your best to anticipate stops you will not only be a safer driver but save yourself money as well.

With some simple behavior changes, you can really make a difference on the amount of gas you consume and make a difference on your wallet.

Up in Smoke! Tailpipe Smoke Can Indicate a Need for Maintenance

Posted by admin

At one time or another, we’ve all been driving behind a smoking vehicle, and we’re not talking about a Ferrari Testarossa. The kind we are talking about are the vehicles that have visible emissions coming out of the tailpipe. You close your windows and sunroof, you even close the vents, but you can still smell the fumes.

A gasoline-powered vehicle spewing smoke for more than five seconds is not only foul-smelling, it can also makes the air unhealthy to breathe. The color of the smoke can help pinpoint the source of the problem.

White Smoke: Possible diagnosis - anti-freeze may be burning in the piston cylinder. While this may not mean anything to you, a mechanic will find that this has happened because of a cracked head, blown gasket or cylinder block. (Don’t be confused by the visible vapor that vehicles exhaust when cold-started in cold weather. Visible vapor is water and will disappear after a few seconds; smoke, on the other hand, doesn’t dissipate as quickly and leaves both a foul smell and haze.)

Blue/Gray Smoke: Possible diagnosis - Blue smoke, which is a rare and very odd sight to see, is caused by the burning of oil in the combustion chamber. Normal causes of this are weak piston rings, bad valve guides, bad valve seals or plugged up engines usually due to a lack of oil changes.

Black/Gray Smoke: The most common kind. Possible diagnosis - Thick black smoke usually means that there is too much fuel and not enough air in the combustion chamber. In rare cases, this can be caused by weak fuel pressure causing fuel to 'drip' from injectors rather than 'spray'.

The answer to eliminating the smoking vehicle is to keep up with the recommended maintenance of your vehicle to help reduce the emissions of harmful air pollutants. In addition, keeping your vehicle in good repair results in improved engine life, lower fuel and overall maintenance costs. A well maintained vehicle should not emit visible exhaust.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is offering $300 in vehicle maintenance for people that ‘like’ their promotional announcement on their Facebook page. This is a chance for you to save some money on maintenance and/or repairs, and help the environment with one easy click.

If you do see a smoking vehicle, Rest assured, there is an action you can take; the State of Colorado has a Smoking Vehicle Hotline for motorists to report smoking vehicles either on line or by telephone at (303) 692-3211.

4 simple steps you can take to reduce your automobile emissions

Posted by admin

Living inColorado, we are able to enjoy the great outdoors. We like to take a hike, ride a bike and even climb to a peak called Pike. To be able to enjoy being outside, we cannot take for granted the air quality that we breathe.

Whether you are concerned about the environment or just want to be able to enjoy outdoor activities, one of the tangible things you can do to improve air quality is to reduce your vehicle emissions. Here are four things you can do TODAY to reduce your auto emissions.

Reduce the amount of time you are in your vehicle. If you are running an errand, why not consider actually running. Alternatively, you could ride a bicycle, join a carpool or become an RTD expert using public transportation. Since our automobiles are a major source of pollution, removing vehicles from the road will have the greatest impact on air quality.

 
Plan your route. If you are driving, take a little extra time before you begin and plan the shortest route possible to efficiently complete your task. Most people are on auto-pilot when it comes to their daily travel routine, however with a little effort you can reduce the amount of money you spend on gas while saving the environment. Remember – no backtracking!
 
Keep your vehicle is good operating condition by doing routine maintenance. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the oil every 7,500 miles in passenger car under ideal driving conditions. How many of us really drive under ideal conditions? For maximum protection, most oil companies say to change the oil every 3,000 miles or three to six months regardless of what type of driving you do.
 
Reduce the amount of time your car idles. An idling car is terrible for emissions. There are some simple fixes: avoiding drive-thru lanes, avoiding travel during rush hour and if you are idling for more than a minute – consider turning off your engine.  Common sense tells us that we don’t need to turn off the engine at a red light, but 60 seconds of idling is a good rule of thumb to consider turning off the engine.

There are many more ways to reduce your auto emissions ranging from buying fuel-efficient cars, to alternative energy vehicles, to simple gasoline additives. Whatever you decide to do, know that making small changes in how you control your automobile usage has direct effect on our air quality and can also save you money at the pump.

read full post

Don't Idle Your Gas Away

Posted by admin

Have you ever driven to the nearest drive-thru coffee shop in the morning and seen a line of 15 cars waiting car_exhaustwhileIdling.jpgat the drive-thru window and none parked in the lot? While everyone else sits in line for 20-30 minutes waiting to order their morning cup of java you could run inside, head straight to the counter, and be out of there with a latte and a muffin in just five minutes. While everyone else is sitting there idling away his or her gas you will have saved half a gallon of gas just by going inside!

As Americans we spend a fair amount of drive time stuck in the drive-thru line or in traffic. Do you ever consider the affect your idling has on the environment, air quality, or your wallet? Let’s get the facts straight and bust some myths. Did you know that for every two minutes your car idles you lose the same amount of fuel needed to drive about one mile? In fact, ten seconds of idling can use more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it.

Myth #1: You should warm up your engine before driving.

It really only takes 30 seconds for your engine to warm up and this is best done while driving. In order for a vehicle to perform well other moving parts such as wheel bearings, tires and transmission need to warm up as well. This does not happen until the vehicle is in motion. Idling only wastes gas and is actually very hard on other components of your vehicle (LEaP).

Myth #2: Idling is good for your engine.

Idling can damage engine components such as cylinders, spark plugs and exhaust systems. When idling an engine does not operate at full temperature, which means that fuel is only partly combusted, and leads to fuel residue buildup on cylinder walls and damages other parts of the engine. Idling also allows water to condense in the exhaust, which eventually corrodes and reduces the life of the exhaust system (LEaP).

Myth #3: Shutting off and restarting your vehicle is harder on it than to leave it running.

The price of fuel wasted idling is more expensive than the cost of component wear that results from restarting the engine. Also, restarting your engine has little impact on engine components such as the battery and the starter motor, both of which can be damaged by excessive idling (LEaP).

A few other things to consider when idling:

  1. It is important to keep your engine well tuned since a poorly tuned engine uses up to 15% more energy when idling.
  2. Turning off the air conditioner when idling can reduce emissions by 13%, which of course improves air quality.
  3. Idling emits pollutants that can exacerbate symptoms of asthma and allergies (California Energy Commission).

Breaking Down Air Pollution

Posted by admin

Photo: The Denver Post

Have you ever been curious about what pollutants are measured when your vehicle is on the treadmill during the emissions inspection? Take a look at the Vehicle Inspection Report provided at the end of the inspection, and you’ll see that they are carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). But why?

It’s all about your health. Both CO and NOx are pollutants that have been demonstrated to be harmful to your health and the environment – so much so that there are federal health-based standards for them. Hydrocarbons (as well as NOx) are two of the primary components that lead to ground-level ozone pollution – another pollutant with a federal health-based standard. What follows is a little info about each pollutant.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas emitted when fuel is burned (this is called combustion). It reduces the body’s ability to deliver oxygen to organs and tissues.

Source(s):

  • Motor vehicle exhaust (accounts for about 50 percent of CO nationwide)
  • Non-road vehicles

Health Effects Include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired coordination and vision
  • Confusion, dizziness and nausea
  • Reduced oxygen delivery to the body’s organs and tissues
  • Aggravation of heart disease

Ozone – The naturally-occurring ozone layer in the upper atmosphere protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, ozone at ground level is a pollutant.

Sources: Ozone is not emitted directly from a source like other pollutants, but forms as a secondary pollutant. Certain “precursor” pollutants like hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides react chemically in sunlight to form ozone.

Source(s):

  • Motor Vehicles
  • Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Activities
  • Utilities
  • Industrial Activities
  • Paints, Solvents, Degreasing Agents and Cleaning Fluids

Health Effects Include:

  • Chest pain                       
  • Throat irritation
  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Aggravation of lung diseases like asthma
  • Decreased lung function

Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) – Nitrogen oxides are a group of highly-reactive gases formed when nitrogen and oxygen in the air are combined in high-temperature combustion. Nitrogen dioxide is the component of greatest concern because it forms quickly from emissions from cars, trucks, buses, off-road equipment and power plants.

Source(s):

  • On- and Off-road Vehicles
  • Combustion Sources (power plants, oil and gas activities)
  • Aircraft

Health Effects Include:

  • Throat Irritation
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Aggravation of heart and lung diseases

The quality of our air has a direct impact upon our health. Educating ourselves about the most common pollutants, their sources, their effects and what strategies are being used to reduce them is an important part of the effort to improve public health and the environment.

To learn more about air pollution, visit the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division’s websites at www.colorado.gov/airquality and www.cdphe.state.co.us/ap/.

Put a Cap on Ozone

Posted by admin

Did you know that a leaky gas cap can lose up to a gallon of gas every 15 days through evaporation? That is equal to approximately two tanks of gas each year. Or, put into other terms, that equals 30 gallons of gasoline and 200 pounds of evaporative emissions, which adds significantly to the amount of ground-level ozone in the air.

Now you may be wondering, “what is ground-level ozone?” Ground-level ozone is created when emissions from industry, automobiles, and other gas powered engines mix with sunshine, which causes a chemical reaction, creating a harmful, ground-level pollutant. Ground-level ozone is not to be confused with the ozone layer in the atmosphere, which protects us from UV rays.

Although automobiles are just one source of ground-level ozone, it has been determined that one of the simplest ways to make a significant impact on pollution levels is to replace faulty or missing gas caps. According to the U.S. Car Care Council, 147 million gallons of gasoline could be saved if everyone in the U.S. replaced their faulty gas caps. In Colorado alone 3,200 cars per month fail the gas cap portion of their emissions test due to faulty or missing gas caps. By replacing each of these caps the Denver Metropolitan area could reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCS) by 2.5 tons per day!

So what can we do? This summer when you go in for an emissions test at any Envirotest emissions testing center, your car will undergo a gas cap test. Anyone who fails will receive a $10 coupon to Napa Auto Parts to buy a new gas cap. Vehicles that fail are required to retest, but can do so free of charge within 10 days of the original inspection. Brian Marsh, general manager for Envirotest Systems says of the program, “Not only will customers with failing caps receive an essentially free new cap, but also the new cap is going to save them money in the long run.”

For more information visit www.aircarecolorado.com today.

The Anatomy of a Biker

Posted by admin

In honor of Bike to Work Day on June 27th we interviewed some local bicyclists. Each of these people rides their bike to work on a daily basis and have become lifestyle cyclists for very different reasons. They are each an inspiration for anyone who wants to ride more and drive less.

 

Joe BagleyName: Joe Bagley

Occupation: Owner, New World Sports, a bicycle rental company in Fort Collins; Massage therapist

Hometown: Fort Collins

Age: 38 years old

Bio: Joe is a semi-pro cross-country and ultra endurance mountain bike racer with over 10 years racing experience. He trains year round in Fort Collins and travels the world with an adventurous spirit.

 


What does biking do for you? It allows me to travel faster than walking without using any type of non-renewable resources.

Do you find that you can get most places you need to go with a bike? Yep

How long has bicycling been a part of your lifestyle? My entire life, since I was old enough to start riding.

What are some of your greatest biking accomplishments? Definitely the Rio 24 Hours of Steamboat, which I’ve done three times and the Colorado Trail Race (470 miles and 65,000' of elevation gain winding through the Colorado Rocky Mountains from Denver to Durango).

What would you say are the major health benefits to riding your bike? Physical fitness, not burning fossil fuels… I guess those are the two big ones.

How much money do you save a year by biking? Oh geeze, I don’t know, probably about $500.

What is your advice to someone who wants to ride more? Ease into it slow and be patient, because it gets easier. Make sure that you have your bike very well tuned and flat resistant tires so that you can get where you need to be on time and not have to deal with inconvenient mechanical issues. Learn how to commute to work without cycle specific clothes. This way biking will become a part of your daily routine without becoming a hassle.

 

Chris and Marge Van WoerkomName: Chris Van Woerkom

Occupation: Recently retired from Agilent Technologies. VanWoerkom worked at Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies for 35 years in a wide variety of positions in marketing and technical marketing.

Hometown: Loveland

Age: 57 years old

 

What does biking do for you? I bike in order to get in shape and clear my mind. When I’m riding my bike it’s like I’m meditating.

Do you find that you can get most places you need to go with a bike? Yeah, for the most part.

How long has bicycling been a part of your lifestyle? I’ve been biking seriously since about 1971, so for about 41 years.

What are some of your greatest biking accomplishments? I’ve participated in Ride the Rockies (an annual bicycle tour that takes 2,000 cyclists on a 6-7 day ride through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains) three times. In college I participated in the Davis Double Century (a 200 mile organized bike ride starting and ending in Davis, California) three times. But perhaps my greatest accomplishment has been converting a handful of people into lifestyle bicyclists.

What would you say are the major health benefits to riding your bike? Well, biking is obviously a great cardio workout, and its great for your mental health as well. When you’re riding you seldom have to stop for traffic and because of this it’s less stressful than driving. I don’t have to deal with stop and go traffic, so I am able to think about the day and like I said before more or less meditate.

I heard that you won a biking award at work. What was the award? On Bike to Work Day they gave me the award for the Most Avid Biker. I drove to work a total of five days that year.

What is your advice to someone who wants to ride more? Start easy and enjoy the ride. Biking lets you look around, so take some time to smell the roses.

How much money do you save a year by biking? Well, on the surface it’s actually not that much, maybe $300 in gas. But if you factor in the price of an oil change and other wear and tear I’d say probably about $400-500. Then again, if you really want to get into it, consider how often you need to buy a car and how much less wear it gets sitting in the garage. That means that you could potentially add a few years to the life of your car and save thousands of dollars.

 

Alyse HoughtonName: Alyse Houghton                                                   

Occupation: Receptionist at Floyd’s 99 Barber Shop                                               

Hometown: Denver                                                                                       

Age: 23 years old        

               

  

 

 

 

What does biking do for you? It is my main means of transportation. It helps sustain me in many ways since I don’t have a car. It’s entertaining and fun and it’s good for your health, gives me exercise, unintentional exercise, haha! I mean I bike because I have to, but I get a great workout at the same time.

Do you find that you can get most places you need to go with a bike? Within Denver, yes, but once a week I catch a ride to Loveland to visit my boyfriend and my family.

Just out of curiosity, why don’t you have a car? When I moved to Cap Hill it was way more of a pain to have one than not and I honesty couldn’t afford license plates for it. So, I drove it to my mom’s place and it’s been there for two years now. For the longest time I just walked everywhere but having a bike allows me to get where I need to go.

How long has bicycling been a part of your lifestyle? To this extent, probably for six months. Obviously I’ve been biking forever, but I got my bike six months ago and it has been my only vehicle ever since.

What are some of your greatest biking accomplishments? Accomplishments, um, I don’t know, I rode 17 miles one day. And I can ride with my dog, that’s cool. I’m not a serious biker, but those are big accomplishments for me.

What would you say are the major health benefits to riding your bike? Well, it’s as simple as just getting a little bit of cardio exercise in and as complex as having a sustainable pollutant free way to travel.

What is your advice to someone who wants to ride more? Move to Capital Hill (Denver), get a bike and get rid of your car. You will ride a lot!

How much money do you save a year by biking? I would say $2,000 easily. I’m not paying insurance, not paying for gas, not paying for car repairs. And parking tickets, I didn’t even factor parking tickets. I save lots of money!

High Park Fire: Reviewing safe camping procedures

Posted by admin

High Park Fire seen from Horsetooth Reservoir

Can you imagine a Fourth of July without fireworks? If Colorado doesn’t find a way to control its wildfires this may very well become a reality. Governor John Hickenlooper has issued a statewide fire ban forbidding open burning and private use of fireworks; however, commercial, professional and municipal fireworks shows will still be allowed with written approval. All of this is in response to a number of Colorado fires, the largest of which has now spread to over 83,000 acres.  The state has recorded at least $20 million in damages caused by the High Park Fire and at least 248 homes have been destroyed. This makes it the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history. Caused by lightening, the fire is now commanding the attention of over 2,000 firefighters working in 24-hour shifts, 132 fire engines, 17 helicopters, 41 hand crews and four heavy air tankers. Last Thursday officials declared that 55% of the fire had been contained; however, since then they have lost ground and now have control over a mere 45%. With over half a dozen fires burning across the state this is the most fire-ridden summer in over a decade. Firefighters continue to battle the blaze and residents wait anxiously to return home. Did you know:

  • Approximately 655,200 outdoor fires occur annually in the United States. The result?
    • 50 deaths
    • 875 injuries
    • $154 million in losses
  • 41% of fires in the US occur outdoors
  • Approximately 47% of outdoor fires are trash or rubbish fires (USFA)

With so many fires in the area including Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah it is especially important to use precautions this summer in order to prevent more fires. Here are some tips to keep in mind while camping and enjoying our beautiful mountains and state parks:

  • Avoid parking vehicles on dry grass.
  • If smoking, make sure there is a three-foot clearing around you. This means avoid smoking where there is dry grass or anything that could catch fire. Dispose of your cigarette in some sort of trash receptacle.
  •  Leave campsites as you found them. Travel on marked trails and roads and avoid leaving anything behind.
  • Use proper fire safety. Avoid taking burning sticks out of the fire, do not light fireworks outdoors, and inspect your campsite before you leave.
  • Place stoves, lanterns, and heaters a good distance from combustibles.
  • Never use stoves, lanterns, heaters, or any other flame inside a tent. (Smokey Bear)

In the US, the leading cause of outdoor fires is unintentional neglect or misuse of materials. With this in mind we should all try to be especially careful when handling an open flame or flammable materials outdoors. Please keep the evacuees of the High Park fire in your thoughts as our noble firefighters do what they can to contain the fire and minimize damage.  

Bike to Work Day: June 27th - Three Benefits of Biking

Posted by admin

(Photo: Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post)

With general concerns about higher gasoline prices, signs of global climate change and an obesity epidemic, there is a recent surge in the number of Coloradoans opting for their bicycle as a primary transportation option.

Many cities have increased their support of biking, as people search for greener, healthier, and cheaper transportation options. Cities like Denver have added low-cost bicycle lanes, the B-Cycle bike sharing program and bike parking options to reduce traffic, improve air quality and promote a healthier lifestyle.

Air Care Colorado is proud to support Bike to Work Day, scheduled for June 27th. The annual free event promotes biking as a choice for those who work along the Front Range and commonly commute by driving alone. The goal is to introduce biking as a commute option and hope that it becomes a more frequent choice.

With the focus on biking and Bike to Work Day, here are three benefits of biking to consider once you have proven to yourself that it is a viable option:

 

1. Biking is good for you.

If you’re looking for a full body workout that will leave you evenly toned from head to toe, look no further. Biking burns calories and boosts energy, while getting you to where you need to go. Are you a runner? Biking puts less stress on your knees, ankles, and spine than either walking or running while giving you just as good of a workout. There is another healthy perk to riding your bike, like any aerobic exercise, biking helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Whether you ride once a week or every single day, please remember to be safe and always wear a helmet!

 

2. Riding saves you money.

Have you ever calculated how much money you spend on gas and vehicle maintenance per year? What about highway tolls and parking fees? Depending on where you live you could save a lot of money by riding your bike from place to place. According to the National Household Transportation Survey, [link - http://nhts.ornl.gov/ ] half of Americans live within five miles of their work. The average person could bike that in about 20 minutes. Now let’s say you bike to work twice a week, five miles each way. That should burn about 3,000 calories (one pound of fat) per month. Now you’re not only saving money, but you’re getting in a great workout at the same time. Ready to calculate how much you could save by biking to work? Try Kiplinger’s bike to work calculator. [link- http://www.kiplinger.com/tools/bike/]

 

3. Contribute to better air quality.

Why does Mother Nature love bicycles? They are 100% emissions free and they don’t take up much space in the junkyard. Unlike motor vehicles, which contribute to air pollution, bicycles are completely eco-friendly. When driving short distances in a car, it takes the catalytic converter a while to kick in and clean up your emissions. Because of this, the first few miles of your drive are often the most polluting. For this reason, it makes sense to make short trips by bike in order to reduce the emissions that you are putting out into the air. If your longer trips are by car, at least you’ll feel better knowing that you’re making an effort to pollute less when you can.

 

Dust off the bike you have in the garage, pump up your tires, and join in the second largest bike to work day in the country. As an added benefit, Breakfast Stations will be open 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
 and Bike Home Stations will be open 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.