How To Do Your Bit To Protect The Environment

Climate change and the environment is top of the global agenda today as the need to cut down on carbon emissions becomes increasingly apparent. As world leaders negotiate to come up with a plan to halt climate change and cut down on emissions, we can also play our part.

Reducing the amount of energy we use in our home, in our workplace and in our cars can have a significant affect on emissions. Not only that, it can save you money too. If everyone makes an effort in their lives, it can make a huge difference on a global scale. Here is some advice on how you can cut down on your energy usage.

In the home

* Switch to energy-saving light bulbs. They cost slightly more, but save up to ten times their price over their lifetime.
* When you are boiling water, or heating anything, only boil the amount you need. You do not need a kettle full of boiling water for one cup of tea.
* Switch off appliances when you are not using them to save money and energy. TVs, videos, stereos and computers left on standby can use use a lot of energy.
* Recycle everything that you can. We throw away our own weight in rubbish every month, but bottles, cans, paper, card, plastic and aluminium can all be reused or recycled which saves energy. For example, it takes the same amount of energy to make 20 cans from recycled material as it takes to make one can from scratch. Recycling will also save you money on refuse charges.
* If you live in a sunny area you could potentially meet all your energy means using solar panels.
* Turning down your thermostat by just three degrees will save you 10 per cent in energy costs. Also, make sure that your home is well insulated so that it keeps the heat in.
* When washing clothes and dishes make sure the appliances are full. Also, try using lukewarm water.
* Keep the lid on pots and pans when you are cooking.

In the office

* Where at all possible, store all documents in digital format on your computer or another storage device. If you must print something, use both sides of the page.
* There is no need to fly half way around the world for a meeting. Online audio and video conferencing has effectively cut out the need for face to face meetings and conferences. The amount of energy that can potentially be saved here is huge.
* Turn your computer off completely or at least put it to sleep when you are not using it. Computers still use a lot of energy when they are on screensaver mode.

In the car

* For shorter journeys, leave the car at home and use a bike instead. Bikes are a healthy, quick and enjoyable way to get around, and a great way to avoid congestion if you live in a big city.
* Experiment with car pooling to get to and from work. It will save you money and could get you to work faster.
* Join the hybrid revolution. Do you really need that gas guzzling SUV? Buy a hybrid and use a fraction of the energy for your journeys.
* Public transport is far more energy efficient than driving. Also, remember that air travel is a major polluter so use ground transport wherever possible.

In the shops

* Do not accept plastic bags from shops. Always bring your own reusable bags.
* Try to buy organic food that is grown locally. Organic food is farmed less intensively and usually requires less energy to produce. In addition, the fact that it is grown locally means a reduction in transport costs.
* Try to eat less meat. Livestock are a major source of greenhouse gases.


While water isn’t strictly energy, it is a finite resource that we need to preserve and take care of. Here are some tips on how to cut down on your water usage:

* Always use the shower instead of the bath.
* Never leave the tap running while brushing your teeth.
* Only use the dishwasher or washing machine with a full load.
* Try to install a system to use your waste water run-off to keep your garden watered. This will also encourage you to use non-harmful soaps and washing powders.
* Water your garden early in the morning or just before sunset. This allows the water to be absorbed into the ground instead of evaporating in the hot sun if you water during the day.
* Water butts or large water containers are a good idea for the garden. Situate them under the edges of your roof so they receive run-off when it rains.

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The Need For A Hybrid Minivan

When your family is growing and your four-door sedan is becoming too small with the rest of the family (and the dog) inside, it only means one thing: you should replace your sedan with a minivan. Moreover, if you were someone who simply wants to do some good with the environment, make that minivan a hybrid minivan.

The Need for a Hybrid Minivan

A hybrid minivan’s roomy interior is the reason why a lot of people, mostly with children, have been wanting for such a car instead of a regular sedan. Also, it has been known that a minivan, hybrid or not, is fuel-efficient as compared to big trucks, SUV’s and sedans with 6 cylinders. Although a growing family needs a roomier or bigger car, it doesn’t need something that will add up to the family budget (especially for fuel consumption).

Aside from these, a hybrid minivan although is spacious, is light to carry because of its light exterior and aerodynamics.

“Muscled” Hybrids, Not Minivan

Today, there hasn’t been any hybrid minivan running the streets of any US states, although other brands have been marketing large SUV’s as minivan or an alternative to it. Yet, these “muscled” hybrids are not minivans and don’t have the qualities of a true-blue minivan: fuel saver, spacious yet light, and therefore, cannot be labeled as a “hybrid minivan.”

On the other side of the coin, muscled hybrids are good, too, especially if you are the outgoing type. Four-wheel drives, SUVs and trucks can run smoothly on rocky, dusty and uneven roads. And in flooded areas, they can move with power, assuring you and your passenger of a safe ride.

The downside of muscled or hybrid trucks is that they are more expensive, consume more fuel and electricity from the battery pack, and are too bulky for city ride.

Toyota’s Minivan

The most anticipated brand of hybrid minivan is Toyota, a Japanese car manufacturer. Toyota holds the top spot in terms of sales for hybrid cars in the US. It enjoys 60% market share on the total sales of US hybrid cars.

The two most highly publicized and rated are Toyota’s Sienna hybrid and Estima hybrid. These two hybrid minivans are at the top of their class in terms of design, aerodynamics, fuel-efficiency and engine performance.

The Soccer Moms’ Fave Hybrid Minivan

Sienna hybrid is a hybrid minivan that soccer moms would love. In fact, even the machismo image of most males won’t be stepped on by this well-designed hybrid minivan.

Sienna resembles the design of regular Toyota minivans. The only differences, of course, is the sleeker and more modern look and the dual energy mode of hybrids. Sienna’s big brother, Estima hybrid, possesses most of Sienna’s positive features, and more.

More Efficient Than Ever

Some car makers have announced redesigns to make the minivan even more fuel efficient than it is now. Although already known to be fuel saver, the redesign allows the hybrid minivan to consume fuel as efficient and as slow as a compact four-door sedan. As per estimate, the latest hybrid van could run efficiently by 35 miles with a single gallon of fuel.

The most interesting and most talked about feature of the most advanced hybrid minivan is its exhaust heat recovery system. According to the manufacturers, this exhaust system allows the recovery of thermal energy that the engine has produced, and routes such energy to heat up the engine coolant.

This process is an effective way to help the engine to warm up even if the car is idle. This way, the energy that would have been wasted (thermal energy from exhaust) has been converted into a positive energy, and thus allows the engine of the hybrid van to shut off earlier and turn on without using up energy from fuel or from the battery pack.

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The Saturn Hybrid And Other Green Cars: An Review Of Eco-friendly Vehicles

Hybrid cars or the hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are the best solution for the growing fuel shortage problems that we have these days. Most car makers today have resorted to the design and production of hybrid cars in answer to the growing fuel crisis. And because of the ingenuity of the inventions, they are rapidly gaining popularity in the market. Terms such as “Saturn hybrid” and “Toyota hybrid cars” are now becoming ingrained in the lingo of auto enthusiasts.

The Government Supports Hybrid Use

The government for a number of good reasons is supporting hybrid cars. These cars are environmentally-friendly because they emit lesser pollutants. It has been noted that some hybrid cars lower pollution rates by up to 90% as compared to conventional cars.

Another good reason is that they are a wise solution to the growing fuel shortage. They economize fuel consumption, making them double efficient for what they usually provide. This is because most of the kinetic power that was wasted in the traditional fully internal combustion engine is now being converted into useful energy.

Because of these good features, the government offers tax incentives for buying hybrid cars.

Efficient, Low Maintenance and Fuel-Efficient

Hybrid cars need not to be plugged into an electrical outlet when charging the electric motor. They make use of a process called regenerative braking. While the vehicle is running with the use of the internal combustion engine, the electric motor is being charged. In driving situations where internal combustion engines are less efficient (as in slow city driving), the electric motor will take over with minimal intervention from the driver.

Initially, purchasing a hybrid is not easy on the pocket because hybrid car prices are higher than ordinary car prices. But in the long run, they prove to be more economical and they offer more benefits than the traditional cars.

In addition, hybrid cars have lower depreciation rates than traditional cars. Also, unlike traditional cars that run on internal combustion engine, they require lesser maintenance thus greatly reducing cost and trouble of having to owning a vehicle.

Hybrid Models and Car Makers

Aside from sedans, there are also available models of hybrid pickup trucks and hybrid minivans. Not only this, hybrid power technology in the area of public transportation is gaining rapid popularity and it is expected to be available soon in many areas of the transport industry.

Car makers have been competing to offer the market the best of hybrid cars. There are many beautiful models to choose from. The buyer may find it hard to make a decision given the stylish designs, performance and price of the various models. Consumers have a wide selection from low-end to high-end cars; they offer benefits that are worth their price.

Toyota Hybrid Cars

There is a long line of Toyota hybrid cars but car reviews have shown that the Toyota Prius is the undisputed favorite. This hybrid car from Toyota is a real looker. In addition, it has the most efficient miles-per-gallon report.

Honda Hybrid Cars

Honda hybrid cars also compete strongly in design and efficiency. The Honda Civic hybrid is the closest in comparison to the most priced Toyota Prius.

Ford Hybrid Cars

Ford hybrid cars offer their well-regarded Escape model. It has a very sleek design and competitive miles-per-gallon efficiency. The interior of the car employs modern designs. It is very efficient to use. In addition to the existing line of Ford hybrid cars, they are about to launch the model that will compete with Toyota’s Prius model.

Saturn Hybrid Cars

“Go green without going broke” is the slogan being touted by the Saturn hybrids. In support of this slogan, they offer good hybrids at lower cost. Their use of “mild hybrid” technology means that they can offer some of the benefits of hybrids without having to increase their selling price all that much.

Convertible Hybrids

While hybrid cars have been widely popular for quite a long time now, hybrid convertibles are on their baby stage as yet. There are not that many models to choose from in the market. Many car enthusiasts have been waiting for the arrival of this type of vehicle on the scene. There is a model launched in the market by Saab.

Whatever model a consumer may choose, green-technology cars such as the Saturn hybrid are better in many ways than the traditional gasoline-guzzling cars. In times when fuel shortage and pollution of the environment are recognized as two of the foremost public issues, the use of this new technology promises to bring a positive contribution.

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