Everyday most of us drive to get to work, to go shopping, to go visit places, and etc., but little do we realize how much of an impact we have on our atmosphere just by driving daily. Often times we have conversations with others about what mileage our respective vehicles achieve, ask about how much we spend on gas, and wonder about how much carbon dioxide we are emitting. I ask the questions, “Am I really achieving the gas mileage that is reported by the EPA? How much do I spend on gas in a year? As well as how much carbon dioxide am I really emitting into the atmosphere?” It is easier to guess what one’s gas mileage is based off of EPA’s estimates and it is easy to estimate how much one has spent on gas. It is hard to estimate how much CO2 one’s vehicle is emitting. I decided to find out my vehicle’s real world statistics regarding these questions and created a side project.
To answer these questions, I looked for websites that will help me track fuel statistics such as miles driven at the time of fillup, total gallons pumped to fill the tank, price of gas at the time of fillup, and etc. I came across a great website that tracks my gas mileage over time http://www.fuelly.com and an alternative website for tracking gas mileage is http://www.fueleconomy.gov. I searched EPA’s website to find a way to calculate carbon dioxide emittance from vehicles.
In 2012, I drove a total of 8,261 miles and stopped to fill up 38 times and consumed 294 gallons of gas. My calculated average combined miles for city and highway for the entire year is 28.1** miles per gallon. EPA’s estimate for combined city and highway for my vehicle is 25 miles per gallon. At an average fuel cost of $3.68 per gallon of gas, I did not expect to spend over one thousand dollars for gas. This answers my first two questions. I am achieving a gas mileage that is better than what is reported by the EPA.
To answer my second question of how much carbon dioxide I am emitting into the atmosphere, EPA has an equation that measures how much CO2 a vehicle releases into the atmosphere:
Annual CO2 emissions =
CO2 per Gallon
——————— * total miles driven in one year = annual metric tons of CO2 emitted
CO2 emissions per gallon of gas = 8,887 grams CO2 per gallon
CO2 emissions per gallon of diesel = 10,180 grams CO2 per gallon
——- * 8,261 = 2.6 metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere
After inputting my corresponding data, my vehicle emitted a total of 2.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That was an eye opener. I did not realize my vehicle can release that much CO2 in the course of one year.
Now that I know what my real world gas mileage is as well as knowing my real world annual carbon dioxide emittance, this has inspired me to cut down on driving whenever possible.
For those interested in achieving better gas mileage and or curious about how much carbon dioxide one’s vehicle is emitting, these websites and EPA’s carbon dioxide equation are excellent tools to use.
** I am able to achieve substantially better gas mileage because of good driving habits (such as coasting whenever possible, braking early, avoiding excessive idling and etc.), proper vehicle maintenance, weight reduction of my vehicle and the addition of aftermarket parts I have bolted on to my vehicle. I have added a cold air intake and an aftermarket exhaust system that have been specifically engineered for my vehicle to increase fuel efficiency.
-MECAP Staff Member
Metro East Community Air Project
1 Regency Plaza
Collinsville, IL 62234