These gadgets enable the conscious drivers to take more control over their driving experience, reduce emissions, increase fuel economy, and lighten their overall transportation carbon footprint.
You can easily install many of these gadgets, no matter what your skill level, which enable you to monitor your vehicle's (and your own) performance and ensure you're getting the maximum efficiency out of every mile. Here are 5 of my favorite automobile gadgets that will save you gas and money.
Cost: $150 average
MPG Improvement: 10 to 20 percent Mile Per Gallon (MPG) Meters are nothing new. In fact, they have been used by hypermilers for a number of years. Scan Gauge II is probably one of the more popular of the model choices. However, just because it has been around awhile doesn't mean that there hasn't been some pretty significant improvements, such as a smaller size, larger display, multicolor LEDs to match interior lighting, data logging, and a full year warranty.
The way it works is it tells you the MPG figures that your vehicle is achieving in real-time as you drive. This means that you can see for yourself just how big of a difference a variety of situations makes in your vehicle's fuel economy, such as stop and go traffic, hills, cold weather, hot weather, etc. An MPG meter takes all the guess work out of knowing how to drive eco-consciously.
MPG Improvement: 10 to 20 percent A similar albeit simpler, less expensive, and easier to use version of the MPG Meter is the Fuel Mizer. The Mizer works by monitoring your driving under a set list of expected driving behaviors. If you don't follow those guidelines it gives you a little reminder in the form of a gentle alarm. If you take off from a stop light too fast... beep, or slam on the brake pedal to abruptly... beep. It also features a visual light scheme which detects the extent of your good or bad driving behavior.
A yellow light means you are driving moderately bad, a green light means you are driving pretty decently, and a red light means you better straighten out, otherwise you're about to get beeped. The unit itself is no bigger than a deck of cards and can easily be transferred from vehicle to vehicle. If you can get past the annoying critical nature of this beast, it actually can save you a lot of gas.
Cost: Anywhere from $60 on up to the hundreds
MPG Improvement: 1 to 10 percent GPS units themselves are a great investment for the eco-responsible driver. They allow the driver to experience less time driving around lost, and they are able to generally calculated the shortest, most fuel efficient route to almost any destination you can imagine. So how could you make an already great product more green than it already is? Make it solar powered.One such solar powered GPS model is the i-Trek Z1. The Z-1 is a great all-around GPS which can be used for hiking, biking, and camping, but it is also capable of accepting turn by turn software for those who like to be told exactly where they need to go!
Cost: $35 and up
If you are one of those people who likes gadgets, such as the ones above, not to mention a few others, such as mp3 players, satellite radios, cell phones, etc., if you leave those plugged into your vehicle on a regular basis, you are slowly draining your vehicles battery. Then when you get in your vehicle to drive somewhere, not only does your ignition have to work harder to start the vehicle (wasting gas), your alternator has to work overtime to recharge the battery (wasting even more gas).The better choice would be to use one of the new solar powered vehicle chargers, similar to the ones that Nissan is shipping to dealers so that they do not have to worry about dead batteries after sitting around the sales lot for months. Especially in this economy! Chargers such as the 12 Volt Solar BatterySaver SE 150 won't charge an overly drained battery, but they will offer just enough extra electricity to compensate for either an extended lapse in driving, or the use of various accessories in your vehicle.
MPG Improvement: 5 to 10 percent of all the new gadgets coming out within the coming months, such as the Ford Parking Assist cars and the new ultra-efficient microwave headlights, my personal favorite is the Nissan eco-pedal. It works simply by pushing back on the drivers foot as they drive to give them an idea of how they should accelerate in order to achieve the best fuel economy possible.While a lot of people have mentioned that such a gadget may be unsafe due to attention it draws from the driver, in truth, it is only a learning tool to improve upon your current bad driving habits. In addition, one of the nice thing about the eco-pedal, is if you are driving in an emergency situation, or treacherous weather conditions, it can easily be turned off. The most effective way to use it, is to allow it to teach you how to drive eco-consciously. Then once you get the hang of things, you can shut it off and trust your intuition.
What3Words makes mapping more precise than postal addresses. HowStuffWorks looks at the changes it may bring to navigation and even humanitarian aid.
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