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All motor vehicles have a significant effect on our environment—they use fuel mainly from non-renewable resources and add to greenhouse gas emissions, air and noise pollution. In fact motor vehicles remain a major cause of air pollution in urban Australia. Transport accounts for 16% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions, and light vehicles alone account for 10%. Even water quality is affected as oily run-off and particles from roads are washed into stormwater drains ending up in our waterways and oceans. A small amount of oil can contaminate waterways and smother plants and animals—one litre of oil is enough to pollute one million litres of water.
The manufacture and maintenance of motor vehicles also impacts the environment by using non-renewable resources like metals, plastics, petroleum and other fossil fuels.
If you're looking for ways to minimise your impact and costs here is some information which could help.
Driving a fuel-efficient car saves money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. A fuel-efficient car can save you more than $900 a year in fuel costs and reduce your car's greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 tonnes a year. That's around half the cost and emissions than those of a less efficient car. Driving efficiently will result in further savings.
a less fuel-efficient car can:
- use 10 litres per 100 kilometres
- cost $1,859 for fuel per year
- emit around 3 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year
a more fuel-efficient car can:
- use 5 litres per 100 kilometres
- cost $929 for fuel per year
- emit around 1.5 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year.
The dollar savings and greenhouse gas emissions in these calculations are based on a petrol car using a sample petrol price of $1.45 a litre, over a travel distance of 12,827 kilometres per year with a mix of urban and rural driving. Other fuel types may result in different costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
You can compare the greenhouse and air pollution emissions and fuel economy of different cars (including four-wheel drives and light commercial vehicles) by using the GreenVehicleGuide. You can also use the Fuel cost and CO2 calculator to estimate your annual fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
All new light vehicles (cars, four-wheel drives and light commercial vehicles) sold in Australia must display a Fuel Consumption Label on the windscreen. The Label is designed to help motorists compare and make informed decisions about the fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of different makes and models of cars.
A hybrid car uses two different power sources to move the vehicle, most commonly a petrol engine and one or more electric motors.
Hybrid cars are very fuel-efficient in cities and towns. They produce less greenhouse gas emissions and use less fuel than nearly all other cars. Hybrids are also fuel efficient for rural driving—however, some non-hybrid fuel-efficient cars can also achieve similar or better levels of fuel economy. Most hybrids don't need to be 'plugged in' to a power source as the batteries are recharged from the energy produced by the vehicle or when the engine is used.
Hybrid cars can be very quiet when running only on the electric motor.
Electric cars offer great potential as a low-emission form of transport. Electric vehicles use a battery-powered electric motor to move the vehicle and are recharged from mains electricity.
A major benefit of electric cars is that they don't produce greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution when driven and have much lower noise pollution levels. If renewable energy such as solar power or GreenPower is used to recharge the batteries then greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. Their running costs are also much lower.
Electric cars can deliver similar levels of performance to some conventional cars—however, most can only travel a relatively limited distance (compared to conventional cars) before their batteries need to be recharged. Recharging can take a long time.
As the technology for electric cars continues to develop and the market expands, they are expected to become more common.
Driving a more fuel-efficient truck or commercial vehicle saves money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. A more fuel-efficient vehicle can save you thousands of dollars a year in fuel costs and reduce your vehicle’s greenhouse gas emissions by several tonnes or more a year depending on how far the vehicle is driven.
Some trucks and commercial vehicles have an auto stop start (or idle management) function that, when activated, automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop, potentially reducing fuel consumption by between 5 to 8 per cent. Driving efficiently will result in further savings.
A hybrid truck uses two different power sources to move the vehicle, most commonly a diesel engine and one or more electric motors.
Hybrid trucks are fuel-efficient in cities and towns. They produce less greenhouse gas emissions and use less fuel than most other trucks. Hybrids are also fuel efficient for rural driving—however, some non-hybrid fuel-efficient trucks can also achieve similar levels of fuel economy. Hybrid trucks don’t need to be 'plugged in' to a power source as the batteries are recharged from the energy produced by the vehicle or when the engine is used.
Hybrid trucks can be very quiet when running only on the electric motor.
Motorcycles and motor scooters are growing in popularity for commuting as they usually have lower fuel and running costs than cars. They're generally easier and cheaper to park and can be an enjoyable way of travelling. Motorcycles and motor scooters also have lower greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre when compared with most cars.
The cleanest motor scooters available in Australia are electric and have no on-road greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution. However, they generally have a low top speed and a limited travel range before you need to recharge. Recharging can take a long time.
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