Inflating Your Tires Will Deflate Your Carbon Footprint

Car in Tree LaneThere is a lot of focus on the outpourings from the smokestacks of refineries and power plants or the exhaust pipes of SUVs, or weatherizing our houses and apartment, but one under-appreciated carbon footprint reducing opportunity is your tire pressure.

Not the most thought provoking topic on the surface, but when you look into it and think about the long-term implications you’ll see that its a huge source of waste. An individual’s transportation energy consumption accounts for 30% of their overall carbon footprint, a good chunk. Hopefully this short article will convince you that inflating your tires will deflate your carbon footprint, with help from one of these handy tire pressure gauges.

The word on the street is that properly inflating your car tires improves gas mileage by as much as three percent or 1% for every 2% of under-inflation. Apparently, tires are typically 5-6 pounds under recommended pressure. This is probably from the potholes, curbs, and barometric and temperature changes that punish our car’s tires every day. That sounds insignificant, but for a few quarters and five minutes at a nearby air pump, it can prove to be a really smart, cost-effective, money-saving, way to decrease you carbon footprint, practically overnight.

Taking the average U.S. driver who drives 13,500 miles every year across the entire operating stock of passenger cars that average 24 mpg, simply be getting 3% more mileage every gallon used, saves this driver 18 gallons of gasoline every year, or $50 in savings. This lower energy efficiency creates an additional 361 pounds of CO2.

Each gallon of gasoline burned, emits 19.64 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere, extending this across the 18 gallons burned and wasted that’s 361 pounds of CO2 every year. All of which could be avoided by periodically checking your tire pressure or about 5 minutes of your time. Not a bad return from the potential savings in terms of both money and the all important carbon footprint.

If it helps to think of CO2 as gas trapped inside a balloon. Filling a balloon with one pound of CO2 would swell the balloon to about the size of one of those (2’X2′) rubber exercise balls that have become so popular lately. So the average U.S. driver, just by driving with lower than recommended tire pressure sends up one of these exercise balls of CO2 every day of the year.

Taking it a step farther and by breaking it down by sex, men on average drive almost twice as much as women. Men typically drive 18,858 miles every year, women 10,142. Calculating the additional CO2 created by driving around on under inflation tires, men generate 505 avoidable pounds of CO2 compared to women who create 272 pounds.

The real kicker is how long it takes the atmosphere to cleanse or absorb, this otherwise avoidable CO2. About 10 years, maybe more. Just be confident that all those trees you see around you are already overloaded and saturated, so they’re no help.

Consider buying one of these tire pressure gauges and keeping it handy somewhere in your car.


About the author

Keith Blizzard

A life-long environmentalist, Keith set out on the never ending journey of adjusting his lifestyle to a more sustainable one, with a goal of annually shrinking his carbon footprint. When he looked around for a dependable source of meaningful carbon footprint reduction ideas, it was pretty lame - so he launched Green Blizzard loaded with eco-friendly lifestyle tweaks. When he's not managing Green Blizzard, you'll find him on the trails around Mid Coast Maine with his trusty trail companion mutt, Moose.