Make Your Own Homemade Hybrid

A hybrid car runs partly on gas, partly on electricity. A homemade hybrid runs partly on gas, partly on the driver's attention. A hybrid car automatically turns off the engine whenever the car is not moving. To turn any car into a homemade hybrid, just turn the engine off when you're not using it to go!

You say WHAT?!? That's ridiculous! Everyone knows it takes 5 minutes worth of gas to start an engine! (Or 30 seconds. Or 3 minutes. Or something.) Everyone knows it will ruin your engine if you turn it off and on a lot!

Forty years ago, when cars were built with carburetors and there was no such thing as global warming, those concerns were valid. But today, the ice caps are melting (see for yourself!) and cars are all made with fuel injection engines, which start up with little effort. Today, there is NO REASON to run your engine unless it's making your car move.

Do you know how much gas it really takes to start a car? TEN SECONDS' worth. Which means, if you're going to be idling for more than ten seconds, you'll save gas by turning off the ignition.

You won't find anyone in the U.S. advocating such rash behavior. Even the U.S. Department of Energy or the U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, in their fuel econony tips goes no further than to make this obvious statement: "Avoid Excessive Idling. Idling gets 0 miles per gallon."

But in many foreign cities (in Japan, Switzerland, Canada), even idling at traffic lights is against the law. Read "Idling: Myths Versus Reality" by the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency, and you, too, will want to drive a Homemade Hybrid!

I kicked the idling habit and saved a gallon of gas per tank, which for my car is just over 10%. If everyone suddenly cut their emissions by 10%, we could slow this problem down before 2050. It's a small step anyone can take, to feel like they're part of the solution.

Visit the Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency to download great printouts and freebies to start an anti-idling campaign in your community. Download a "Homemade Hybrid" window poster right here to display right on your car.

[NOTE: when this blog was first created in 2007, I had to dig far and wide for actual facts on idling. Now this information is everywhere—hooray! Is it time to retire this blog?]

© 2007 Kristen Caven

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