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These 3 transportation tips could save you thousands of dollars — and make a massive impact on our planet

It's no secret that getting around is expensive these days.

It's no secret that getting around is expensive these days.

Photo Credit: iStock

These days, getting around can be expensive. On average, new cars cost nearly $10,000 more than they did in 2020, according to Kelley Blue Book via Consumer Reports, and today's gas prices are nothing to sneeze at, either.

And at the same time that Americans are paying more for transportation, its impact on our air and climate is staggering — according to the Department of Transportation, transit is the U.S. economic sector with the largest impact on the overheating of our planet.

So, what can we do to save cash while fighting environmental degradation? As it turns out, a lot. There's no shortage of solutions to lowering your transportation budget, but it can be tricky to know where to start. That's why we're laying out some of those solutions that could be best for you and your family.

Making your car more efficient

  • Quit the idling: Besides being terrible for your car, idling can use up nearly half a gallon of gas every hour, according to AAA. Plus, the gas costs add up fast, especially considering that America's idling habit adds about 60 billion pounds of air-worsening pollution annually.  
  • Crack the window: It may be surprising, but turning on your car's A/C can actually decrease your vehicle's mileage by as much as three miles per gallon, depending on various factors, as Chapel Hill Tire points out. Open a window instead.

Electrifying your transportation

  • Level up to an e-bike: Electric bikes increasingly make sense in a country where over half of all trips are less than three miles, according to the Department of Energy. For these shorter trips, e-bikes can represent a cheaper mode of transportation than driving and are way easier on your thighs than a regular bike. 

    While the average e-bike can cost about $2,000 or more, over the course of a decade, and by capitalizing on state tax incentives, you might reasonably expect to save $7,000 by driving less and e-biking more. Plus, according to the New York Times, two- and three-wheel EVs are reducing oil demand by nearly a million barrels daily.

  • Go for an EV: If you're considering getting a new car, this is your confirmation that it should be an EV. The potential $7,500 federal tax credit for new EVs (and potential $4,000 for used EVs) is undoubtedly an excellent reason to opt for electric, but lower gas and maintenance costs are nice too. Imagine savings of $1,500 every year on gas and maintenance. 

    All being said, if incentives make up for any differences in up-front costs, you could reasonably expect to be $15,000 ahead after 10 years if you go for the EV instead of a traditional gas car. After the same decade, you'd have reduced nearly 100,000 pounds of planet-warming pollution, too, based on DOE data.

Utilize biking, walking, and public transit

  • Give biking a try: Electricity-powered vehicles aren't for everyone. If you're able to bike to work 10 times a month for a trip of 10 miles roundtrip, you'd be ahead about $150 a year. And even if you don't have a bike now, you'd still be up about $1,100 after a decade if you took the plunge and bought one.
  • Walk the walk: It's not always possible to get where you need to go by foot. But when it is, it's surprisingly lucrative to do so. Walking an extra hour a week instead of driving could save you well over $100 a year. Plus, new research has found that this extra activity can reduce your risk of death from both heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Take public transit: Opting for public transit may actually be the easiest way to save cash. According to the American Public Transportation Association, people can save over $13,000 in a single year by riding public transportation instead of driving. On top of those massive savings, you could expect to reduce 2,000 pounds of planet-warming pollution every year.

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