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How Driving Green Could Save You Money

There are a lot of reasons to want to live a greener life — your health and the health of the planet being two of the major ones — but “going green” in your daily life can also save you money in the long term, even when it comes to driving around.

If you’ve already put some thought and effort into living a green lifestyle, chances are you’ve already investigated or embraced transportation options like biking more, taking public transit, and doing more walking. But updating your car situation to something more eco-friendly can be another great step — and it might not be as hard on your bank account as you think.

Laws and regulations about green energy and driving are changing everywhere across the country. Let’s take Ohio, for example. Recently, Ohio has shown indications of moving in a much eco-friendlier direction when it comes to its power needs. While only 3% of Ohio’s energy currently comes from renewables, the clean energy industry is making some major strides in the state. Projects like the Hillcrest Solar Power Project, completed in 2021, boasts 600,000 solar panels that can produce 200 MW of power at a time, all of which is currently purchased by Amazon. More companies than ever are looking for renewable, eco-friendly solutions to their power needs.

Now let’s talk about vehicles, and how you can save some money.

Green Driving Incentives

Many state governments, Ohio included, are offering green driver incentives for consumers looking to buy an eco-friendly car, or those who already own one. For example, businesses, schools, and nonprofits looking to install alternative fuel facilities can receive incentives of up to 80% or see the costs of their fleet conversion entirely paid for. There are also federal tax credits for those looking to buy a hybrid, electric, or alternative fuel vehicle.

Insurance Discounts

But those green driving incentives aren’t just limited to buying — you could also save money on your insurance after the fact. Depending on your insurance provider, you could potentially receive car insurance discounts for:

  • Alternative fuel vehicles
  • Hybrid auto discounts.
  • Low-mileage and pay-as-you-drive discounts (for those looking to drive less).

These discounts could save you as much as 10% on your car insurance bill. Of course, these discounts also vary by provider, so it pays (literally) to shop around and compare car insurance quotes.

Buying an Eco-Friendly Vehicle

Much like the policies insuring them, not every eco-friendly vehicle is created equal. Many of the eco-friendly cars on the road run on diesel, biofuels, electric, or a hybrid. Some cars may make only a small positive impact on the environment, while others are zero-emission machines that mostly don’t make things worse than they already are.

Biodiesel vehicles run on a process called esterification, and use products like animal fat, canola oil, soybean oil, or even cooking grease as the base for their fuels. These need an alcohol catalyst such as ethanol to become useful as biofuel. Recent examples include the Chevrolet Cruze (which was unfortunately discontinued in 2019) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Flex Fuel vehicles can run on either gasoline or ethanol-blended fuel. These vehicles often run on alcohol made from corn or sugar cane. Some recent FFV models include the Nissan Frontier and the Ford Escape. Unfortunately, these vehicles may cost you more in terms of fuel, since they are less fuel-efficient when not running on gasoline.

Electric vehicles are often thought to be the most likely future of eco-friendly vehicles, as they have zero tailpipe emissions and the best gas mileage of any of the eco-friendly vehicle types. The Tesla brand is one of the most recognizable when it comes to EVs, although cars like the Hyundai Ioniq have also been a popular and affordable choice.

Saving Money

So how can choosing an eco-friendly car save you money?

A lot of your savings will come in terms of fuel and maintenance costs: electric vehicles cost much less to run than gasoline vehicles on a per-mile basis, and electric vehicle engines also don’t have the same wear-and-tear issues that more conventional engines have. Because of the technology used in many hybrid and electric vehicles, you could also save money on brake maintenance — hybrids’ brake pads tend to last up to three times as long as those in more traditional vehicles. Over time, that can add up to a lot of money saved on parts and labor.

But it’s important to remember the insurance discounts and tax incentives, as well as possible perks such as loan discounts (depending on your lender), resale value (some eco-friendly vehicles depreciate more slowly) and, last but not least, the cost it saves to the earth and our environment. A greener, more eco-friendly planet is something none of us can put a price tag on.

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