What Can I Do to Help?

 

Since 2 of the major sources of pollutants are from motor vehicles and electrical power generation, any effort to reduce driving or electrical usage will help.  Here are 10 easy and low-cost ideas:

 

1 – Drive the Speed Limit

 

It takes more energy to drive faster, which means burning more gas or diesel.  In fact, the average car uses 20% more fuel to travel the same distance at 75 mph than 55 mph.   Studies show that average fuel economy is greatest between 35 and 45 mph.

 

Driving slower is also safer.  From 2007 to 2009 within the City of Waco, excessive speed or driving too fast for conditions was cited as a significant factor in 1 out of every 5 crashes and 1 out of every 4 fatal & serious injury crashes*.

 

Gradual acceleration and driving with the traffic flow also helps.  Aggressive driving uses between 30% to 40% more fuel but reduces travel time by only 4%.

 

Driving smartly will not only improve Waco’s air quality, it’ll save you money and make our streets safer.

 

*Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization: Crash Analysis for City of Waco: 2007 to 2009

 

 

For More Information

The following websites provide additional information on how to drive smarter:

www.fueleconomy.gov

 

2 – Maintain Your Vehicle

 

A properly maintained vehicle burns fuel more completely and efficiently translating into better fuel mileage.  Poorly maintained vehicles do not completely combust all fuel which results in gasoline or diesel vapors entering the atmosphere.  Poorly maintained vehicles produce exhaust smoke which contributes much more NOx and VOC emissions than properly maintained vehicles.  The following tips will make your car run more efficiently and use less fuel.

 

 • Perform Regular Tune-ups

 

• Change your oil and other fluids regularly

 

• Most Manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 3 to 5 months or every 3,000 to 5,000 miles

 

• Most Manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles

 

• Change your air filter regularly

 

• Check every 3 months, if dirty then replace

 

• Maintain proper tire pressure

 

• Check your tire pressure at least once a month

 

 

Report Smoking Vehicles

 

The State of Texas has developed a program to allow residents anywhere in Texas to anonymously report vehicles that produce smoke.  The Report Smoking Vehicles Program (RSVP) notifies the owner of vehicles reported that a problem has been observed and encourages the owner to make the necessary repairs to their vehicle.  The program is 100% voluntary and there is no enforcement action on the part of the State as a result of non-compliance.  Often most reported vehicle owners do not know their vehicle has a problem.

 

To Report a Smoking Vehicle

 

(1) Upon observing a smoking vehicle, please make note of the following information:

 

    Texas license plate number

    Date observed

    Time (AM/PM)

    City

    Location observed

 

(2) Report the information to the TCEQ, within 30 days, by one of the following methods:

 

    Report a smoking vehicle online(in English)

    Report a smoking vehicle online(in Spanish)

    Call 1-800-453-SMOG (7664)

    Send a fax to 512/239-1500

    Mail the information to:

 

Smoking Vehicle Program, MC-164

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

P.O. Box 13087

Austin, Texas 78711-3087

 

For More Information

For more information on how a properly maintained vehicle helps improve air quality and saves you money to to:

www.fueleconomy.gov

 

 

For more information on the RSVP program go to: http://www.tceq.state.tx.us/implementation/air/mobilesource/vetech/smokingvehicles.html

 

 

3 – Try Walking Instead

 

Most people can walk a quarter of a mile in about 5 minutes.   The average time required to leave a parking spot, drive, and find another parking spot is minimally 3 minutes.  Walking also burns some calories which will help you lose some of that extra weight.  So if your destination is only a few blocks away, consider walking instead of getting into your car.  You’ll be healthier and you’ll be helping our air quality.

 

Better Yet:

 

If you work in Downtown Waco or Baylor, try the DASH Shuttle.  Buses run every 15 minutes between 7:30 AM and 5:30 PM during weekdays.   The DASH provides convenient access to all of the major restaurants, shopping and service destinations in Downtown as well as the Baylor University campus.  For more information on the DASH schedule and route, go to www.waco-texas.com/transit/dash.asp

 

 

4 – Skip the Drive-Thru

 

Grabbing a burger or a taco?  Try going inside the restaurant instead of the drive-thru.  Often the drive-thru is no faster.

 

Better Yet:

 

Pack your lunch instead.  A quick homemade sandwich or home prepared foods are usually less than half the cost of most fast-food.  In addition, you wouldn’t have to get in your car at all for lunch.  Find a friend or co-worker, discover a local park, save some money and help improve our air quality all at the same time.

 

 

For More Information

The Waco / McLennan County Health District has much more information on how to make quick, nutritional lunches to bring to work or school:

http://www.mclennanpublichealth.org/

 

 

5 – Turn your Air Conditioner up a Few Degrees

 

Try setting your thermostat to 78 degrees and using your ceiling fans to circulate the air.  You use approximately 3% less energy for each 1 degree increase on your thermostat during the summer.

 

Better Yet:

 

If you have a programmable thermostat, consider setting it at 80 degrees when no one is home.  Cooling your house just before you get home uses a lot less electricity and costs a lot less than keeping it cool all of the time.

 

For More Information

The US Department of Energy has much more information on how to get the most out of your household appliances for the minimum cost:

www.energysavers.gov

 

 

6 – Use Compact Fluorescent Lights

 

A compact fluorescent light (CFL) uses 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent light.  If every home in McLennan County replaced just one traditional incandescent light with a CFL, we would save enough energy to light almost 2,200 homes* for a year or save about $500,000 in annual energy costs.  This is also equivalent to the emissions of nearly 600 cars.

 

What about Mercury in CFLs?

 

CFLs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing - an average of 4 milligrams - about the amount that would cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. By comparison, older thermometers contain about 500 milligrams of mercury - an amount equal to the mercury in 125 CFLs. Mercury is an essential part of CFLs; it allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact (not broken) or in use.

 

Most makers of light bulbs have reduced mercury in their fluorescent lighting products. Thanks to technology advances and a commitment from members of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, the average mercury content in CFLs has dropped at least 20% in the past year. Some manufacturers have even made further reductions, dropping mercury content to 1.4 - 2.5 milligrams per light bulb.

 

Because CFLs contain mercury, they should be disposed of properly. Follow proper clean-up recommendations if a CFL breaks in your home.

 

For More Information

Learn more at: www.energystar.gov

 

*Energy to power light fixtures for an average home only.  Does not include energy to power appliances or climate control equipment.

 

 

7 – Mow Your Lawn in the Evening

 

Since sunlight is one of the essential ingredients to create ozone, anything that postpones emissions to the end of the day will help reduce the problem.  Mowing your lawn after 6:00 PM gives the atmosphere a chance to disperse your mower emissions before the sun has a chance to ‘cook’ them.  If waiting is not an option, such as a 100 degree day, at least mow your lawn before 10:00 AM.

 

Better Yet:

 

If it’s a particularly hot and stagnant day (Over 100 degrees and winds less than 5 mph), wait a day or two for a cooler or breezier day.  Not only will it help reduce ozone formation, but it’ll feel a lot more comfortable.

 

 

8 – Refuel in the Evening

 

Every time you refuel your vehicle, a small amount of vapors are released into the atmosphere.  These vapors include Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs which are one of the classes of chemicals necessary to produce ozone.  Similar to mowing after 6:00 PM, if you can wait to refuel your vehicle, this gives the atmosphere a chance to disperse these vapors before the sun has a chance to ‘cook’ them.

 

 

For More Information

www.tceq.state.tx.us

 

 

9 – Try Waco Transit

 

One bus can replace the equivalent of 35 cars.  In addition, the Waco Transit has completely replaced their fleet with brand new buses using ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel.  Waco Transit has routes within convenient walking distance of most residences, employers, schools, services and retail destinations within the Waco Urbanized Area.  A monthly pass is only $40 and provides you unlimited access to the system.

 

For More Information:

For routes, schedules, fees and discounts, visit

www.waco-texas.com/transit/index.asp