By Lena Borrelli
Originally published by Bankrate.
It is hard to go anywhere these days without hearing about climate change, which is increasingly taking center stage as a growing issue that can have terrible consequences if not addressed in time. As a result, there is a much greater focus today on sustainable living. As more people look for eco-friendly ways to live, there are some simple adjustments you can make to reduce your carbon footprint and do your part to protect the environment.
Recycling and avoiding plastic products are easy ways to instantly reduce your environmental footprint, with many restaurants and bars even adopting paper straws for more eco-friendly operations. And global sales of electric vehicles (EVs) have increased 40% between 2019 and 2020, with charging stations tripling from 7,340 in 2014 to 25,313 in 2020. There will be many more to come, too, as the U.S. invests even more into electric vehicle expansion nationwide. If you want to become more friendly to the environment, driving might be a good place to start.
Our vehicles are one of the biggest detriments to the environment, with the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel releasing nitrogen gas and excess carbon dioxide (CO2) that warms the atmosphere and, in turn, disrupts the climate. It is estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation alone are responsible for about 29% of total emissions, more than any other sector.
To help, there are some things that you can do to lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in your household.
Not driving at all can help you reduce your carbon footprint. There are other ways that you can travel without using a personal vehicle:
Electric and hybrid vehicles are quickly becoming more mainstream and not only provide a more eco-friendly way to travel but can be far more affordable, too.
|Electric vehicles||Plug-in hybrid||Hybrid||Gasoline|
|CO2 Equivalent||3,774 lbs||5,680||6,258||11,435|
An electric vehicle only costs about $600 more per year to own than the average gas vehicle, according to AAA. However, based on a total mileage of 15,000 miles a year, you can save an average of $546 per year in fuel costs compared to the $1,255 it would cost you with a gas-powered vehicle. That is 130% more per year.
Maintenance is also cheaper, with far less required to keep your car in top working order. Based on manufacturer recommendations, routine EV maintenance costs about $949 total or $330 less than gas-powered cars.
When you own an electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, you could receive a federal tax benefit of up to $7,500 if you purchased a new vehicle in 2010 or later. To find out how much you can earn for a specific vehicle, the U.S. Department of Energy provides a listing of the eligible makes and models with the exact tax credit amount.
Car manufacturers are increasingly introducing new electric vehicles to their lineups, many of which are more affordable than ever.
There are three types of electric cars that you can purchase:
Edmunds provides a list of the cheapest electric cars available in 2021:
Most Affordable Electric Cars (Edmunds)
|Make and model||EV range||Starting price (with destination fee)|
|2021 Mini Cooper SE||110 miles||$30,750|
|2021 Nissan Leaf||149 miles||$32,620|
|2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric||170 miles||$34,250|
Insuring an electric car can cost more than the average cost of car insurance for traditional vehicles, but if you shop around for multiple quotes and look for discounts, insuring an electric car can be just as affordable as insuring a gas-powered car. In addition, several of the best car insurance companies now offer insurance for electric cars, so taking the time to do a little research can get you the right insurance for your needs.
Transportation is not the only way to make a difference. These are some other ways to live in a more environmentally-friendly way at home and work:
With climate change already showing its effects, sustainable living is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint, whether through your diet, lifestyle, or transportation. About 96% of EV drivers tell AAA that they would buy or lease another electric vehicle.
The research is clear. With some minor changes, you can not only improve the quality of your health but help save the planet, too.