Talking Sustainability

Energy Sustainability in the Transportation Sector

Efficient energy use is among the more widely acceptable subjects on sustainable development. Energy is the engine of growth; therefore access to energy affects our social, economic and physical development. The recent increase in energy prices has taken its toll on our pockets no matter who we may be, young or old, poor or rich. For some time now we have been anxiously awaiting the increase in gas prices as we watched the prices fluctuate on the world market.

There is now much speculation on how much these new prices will affect us. Given the inevitable, perhaps a better question would be what can be done to lessen the impact of the increased prices. In 2001, the Government of Saint Lucia approved a national Sustainable Energy Plan. The plan is a strategy to guide the development and growth of the local energy sector paying, special attention to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The car transportation sector has expanded considerably in the last decade. Experiences in other countries like Europe and the USA have shown that while there is a budding trend towards energy management in the transport sector that has been a very difficult area to manage largely because we are dealing with personal attitudes and behaviors. We in Saint Lucia have no control over the prices on the world market but we can control the amount of fuel we use.

We can become more energy conscious and practice energy conservation and energy efficiency whenever possible. Major steps would be to improve the road networks in Saint Lucia and to provide a higher standard of public transportation. These changes would achieve significant success in reducing fuel consumption but they more than likely require considerable investment and decisions at the policy level.

However as an individual there are some personal choices we can make. These choices will not only improve our financial and social circumstances but will also contribute to a healthy environment. These include simple decisions like carpooling, biking, walking short distances, using public transport, and bundling errands so that fewer trips are made. These can go a long way in reducing our expenditure on fuel and helping us adjust to the increased prices. But below are few other suggestions for saving on energy.

Buy Smart.

Consider the energy efficiency when buying a vehicle. The initial cost of an energy efficient car may be high but the operational cost will be lower, hence over time the total cost of the energy efficient vehicle will be less. In addition a vehicle that gets 30 mpg will generally emit about 3.75 tons less CO2 per year than a 15-mpg.

Drive Smart.

Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph, because higher speeds demand more fuel to overcome wind resistance. It is also prudent to turn off the engine while parked for more than a minute. Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines. When you use overdrive gearing, your car's engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Maintain your car.

Regular tune-ups can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, which reduces a car's CO2 output and can save on every gallon. That is of course dependent on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. Your car's air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine.

Keep the pressure on.

Check tyre inflation regularly, at least once a month. It is estimated that a tyre that is under inflated by only 2 pounds per square inch can cause a 1 percent increase in fuel consumption and corresponding CO2 emissions. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. In addition, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

Wise energy use in the transportation sector will not only save you money but will help ensure a clean environment. Live wiser be an energy miser.

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