Georgetown, October 31, 2013: Energy is integral to a country’s economic growth and development. It supports diverse economic activities such as transportation, agriculture and manufacturing, all of which undoubtedly are key sectors of development. Additionally, it is also a major contributor to health and well-being, given that it provides services such as heating, lighting, transportation and cooling.
With a historical dependence on imported petroleum-based fuels as its primary source of energy, Guyana imported 4.9 million barrels of petroleum-based products in 2012 (the equivalent of 13,320 barrels per day), which represents 13.42% more than 2011. This consisted of diesel, fuel oil, gasoline, kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
What may come as a surprise to many is that a recent analysis of sector consumption revealed that the transport sector accounted for the largest share of petroleum imports. This sector, driven mainly by the need for gasoline and diesel, due primarily to the growing vehicle fleet in the country, accounts for 38% of the total petroleum imports for 2012, thereby earning the title of being the country’s ‘largest energy user’.
Global concerns about climate change and its negative impact and threat to health, economies and communities, notwithstanding the macro economic challenges for fuel importing countries like Guyana, compels the need for energy conservation and efficiency. Energy management, through conservation and improved energy efficiency, are considered to provide the greatest scope for immediately reducing the requirements for energy.
Often, energy conservation messages seldom target the transport sector and more specifically those who own and operate motor vehicles. However, the fact that the transport sector accounts for the largest share of imported petroleum is an indication that energy conservation (and energy efficiency) messages must include this sector specifically those who own and operate motor vehicles; the intended aim being to promote behavioural change in a bid to encourage the practice of energy conservation, which, simply defined, means the ‘saving of energy by any means including energy efficiency’.
Dr. Mahender Sharma, CEO of the Guyana Energy Agency, in a comment on the issue posited that “…the rational and efficient use of energy requires behavioural changes to avoid unnecessary energy consumption.” He further stated that, “Energy efficiency improvements refer to a reduction in the energy used for a given service or level of activity. The reduction in the energy consumption is usually associated with technological changes, but not always since it can also result from better organisation and management or improved economic conditions in the sector (non-technical factors).”
The question therefore that arises is, how can we conserve energy when using a motor vehicle. The answer really is quite simple….by being ‘Auto Smart’. “By simply combining errands into one trip one can save on fuel consumption” said Dr. Sharma. “…the fact is that several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance.” He further posited that public transportation vehicles like minibuses and taxis can attain greater fuel economy by operating within prescribed speed limits as speeding, rapid acceleration, hard and constant braking waste gas. “…Ensuring tyres are properly aligned and inflated, using air conditioners only when needed, taking unnecessary weight out of the vehicle are all ways in which you can consume less fuel” he concluded. Simple tips that once adopted and practiced will benefit not only one’s wallet but will positively impact our economy and environment.
Some additional tips for better gas mileage/fuel efficiency are:
- Use a bicycle or walk (when appropriate) to reduce energy cost. Cycling or walking is best during heavy traffic and helps you stay fit and healthy.
- Try to maintain a constant rate especially when driving long distances. Excessive acceleration and braking waste fuel.
- Consider buying a smaller more fuel efficient vehicle. By consuming less fuel it will help the environment.
- Open the windows on hot days to cool the vehicle BEFORE turning on the air conditioner. A car’s air conditioner is an added burden on your engine. Air conditioners set at lower temperatures consume more energy. A comfortable temperature can be about 24 to 25 degrees celcius.
- Do not force your vehicle to speed on lower gear. Drive at the highest appropriate gear.
- Avoid traffic jam routes. Stop and go traffic takes a toll on your gas. If a traffic jam route is inevitable, make an effort to leave home early before the jam starts.
- Use overdrive gears and cruise control when necessary. They improve the fuel economy of your car when driving on a highway.
- Close windows at higher speeds. Open windows increase wind resistance and force the engine to work harder.
- Anticipate traffic stops and slow down well ahead.
- Do not tail gate. This increases the need for breaking and can be dangerous.
- Avoid unnecessary idling. Turn off engine if you anticipate a wait over two minutes.
- Do not overfill the gas tank. On hot days fuel expansion can cause an overflow.
- Avoid diagonal parking and reversing. Reversing requires more gas than forward movement.
- Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained and serviced; keep the vehicle engine tuned and wheels properly aligned.
- Clean spark plugs regularly. A fouled plug could reduce gasoline mileage by as much as 15%.
- Make sure the vehicle ignition is properly adjusted. Keep all air filters clean.
- Ensure the petrol tank cap is properly fitted. A worn or ill fitted cap will cause fuel to splash out or evaporate.
- Ensure that oil levels are correct. This includes engine, gearbox and rear axle oil.
By making the extra effort to maximize fuel efficiency you will not only save fuel and money but help to reduce Green House Gas Emissions that cause Global Climate Change!