All this talk about alternatives. Does it just seem too ethereal? Perhaps something that’s nice, but not for you? Certainly, no one needs to add anything else to his to-do list.
Yet using alternative fuels really is easier than you might think. Let’s consider the reasons why:
You’re Going to Buy a Car Anyway
Face it: It’ll soon be time to get a new-or pre-owned-car: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average new-car buyer trades in a car at 55,000 miles-that’s about every four years. They also report the average life span of a vehicle is just over 13 years, with final mileage clocking in at 145,000.
So . . . it may not be this year, but the time is coming, and even if you’re only in the market for a pre-owned vehicle, why not at least take a look at some of the existing models that are available to utilize alternative fuels:
Diesels & Biodiesels: Any diesel engine can use biodiesel. Whether you go for brand-new or something older with character, take a look at the choices. Plus, diesels have a reputation for reliability and durability. It’s not uncommon for a diesel engine to last 500,000 miles-now that’s some real value in an alternative fuel vehicle.
Flexible fuels (FFVs): Have you looked at the flex-fuel vehicles that can run E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) yet? Quite a few models are available with this option-even pick-up trucks. With makes and models going back to 1998, you could even find a nice selection of pre-owned models. Check out the flex-fuel vehicles buyers’ guide to see what’s available.
Propane and Natural Gas: It’s not just for barbecues and appliances-you’ll find these optional fuel systems on quite a few cars and trucks also. And if you don’t want to buy a new vehicle with a factory-installed system, options exist to have your current ride outfitted with a conversion kit. Check out the vehicles available with natural gas here. A nice plus: These fuels tend to give your engine an extended service life.
Bi-fuel: Talk about choices: Bi-fuel vehicles can operate on two different types of fuel, often with just the flip of a switch. How’s that for having an emergency back-up system? Check out some of the vehicles available in bi-fuel.
Hybrids: Who hasn’t heard of a hybrid? It’s really just what its name implies: a vehicle of mixed composition-an electric motor AND internal combustion engine. And here’s where manufacturers have made it nice: Over 100,000 hybrids have been sold to date, and with continued demand, there’s sure to be exciting improvements and innovations in the coming years. Hybrids have been around long enough for variety of pre-owned models to be available as well. Check out the available hybrids.
You’ll Find Abundant Fueling Options
Yes, it seems like they’re popping up everywhere-making the alternatives more readily available than ever before. It may be easier to fill up with gasoline at the corner station, yet that local neighborhood gas station may also be one that’s offering the latest in alternative fuel options. And maybe best of all, some alternatives let you fuel up right at home with no more trips to the gas station.
Biodiesel: With fueling stations in all 50 states and more becoming available all the time, find the one closest to you. Or call 1-800-BIODIESEL when you’re on the road.
Ethanol: Demand for this alternative is growing by leaps and bounds: Find out where there’s an E85 filling station near you.
Propane: The word is out, and what fleets have known is now for the average citizen. While propane has been used in transportation for over 60 years, it’s time to find out where you can fill up on propane also.
Natural Gas: What could be better than filling up right in your own garage? If natural gas is available in your neighborhood, you could outfit your garage with an appliance to refuel your car right in your driveway or garage.
Electric: Electric vehicles like this also offer charge at home convenience. Plug it in at night and you’re ready to go in the morning.
You’ll Use It At Home Too
Now you can even bring alternatives home-they’re not just for the road anymore. Depending upon what kind of home heating and cooling system you have, you can go alternative without ever leaving your driveway.
Bioheat: It’s a blend of vegetable oil-based fuel and low-sulfur heating oil that can be put directly into the tanks of your oil-fired boiler or furnace. It mixes perfectly well with heating oil and offers reduced emissions with comforting winter heat. Because it burns cleaner, it also eases heating system maintenance. Find the answers to your questions here, along with a map of Bioheat and biodiesel distributors across the United States.
Biodiesel Generators: Most folks hate to lose their electric service during a storm. Backup electric generators that are large enough to power your entire house are usually diesel powered-why not power that big boy with clean, green biodiesel.
Renewable Energy: Yes, solar and wind technologies are here to stay. Photovoltaic (solar electricity-generating) panels, solar hot-water heating systems and wind-generating turbines are all ways to harness the alternatives. No room for your own panels or windmill? Find out more about these cleaner, greener options.
You Might Not Even Know It
It’s on the cutting edge of technology, and yet fuel cells are on the verge of becoming part of our everyday life.
Fuel cell powered portable devices: Laptop computers, cell phones, pagers, PDAs and more. Hydrogen direct fuel cells are beginning to show up as battery alternatives in all manner of electronic devices.
Fuel cell home power source:These are still mostly in testing and development stages, but the time is coming when hydrogen fuel cell power devices will both heat and power our homes. Check out the latest fuel cell developments.
Here’s hoping you’ll find one small way to make a difference: Encourage your friends, your family, your neighbors to take a look at the alternatives. Become part of creating demand-after all, the more demand, the more products and choices available. And that’ll help make life better for all of us.
Choose an alternative-it just might be easier than you think-and be part of the solution.