I bought something. Actually I bought it two months ago, I just didn’t tell you. Sorry. Turns out that because I work 20 miles away, we need a second car. I did some research (although I don’t think I spent a full 30 days researching) and in the end I bought a 2000 Honda Insight.
I’d rather have an electric car, but those are a little more than I wanted to pay. As long as we’re speaking hypothetically, I’d really rather ride my bike, but that wasn’t an option either.
In case you don’t know, the Honda Insight was the first hybrid car (gas & electric). Or at least it was the first mainstream hybrid car. It only has two seats, and it’s tiny. So it works perfectly for commuting.
According to How Stuff Works, the reason the car gets such great gas mileage is pretty simple: it’s light, aerodynamic, and has a tiny engine. The added electric motor gives it a little more boost when you need it so you don’t notice that you really only have a lawn mower sized engine. It ends up feeling more like a lawn mower being pushed by the Energizer Bunny.
But the thing I find to be the biggest gas saver is all the gauges in the dash that tell you how much gas you’re consuming. I’m hyper aware when I drive the Insight of every mile I’m getting out of the $3.50 gallon of gas I put in. On my first tank, I averaged 65 mpg. I figured I could do better with the next tank since I learned some things from the first tank. Unfortunately the weather got hotter and I’ve been using the air conditioning (only when I’m on the highway and it’s completely necessary; and even then I feel super guilty about it because I see the mpg drop into the 50s).
But there you go. I don’t feel guilty when I drive the WRX and get closer to 20 mpg. I don’t feel guilty when I use the a/c at home or when I don’t finish all my food and decide saving the leftovers is too much of a hassle. Because there are no gauges telling me I’m not doing a good enough job. Right?
That’s not really true, is it? Or else I wouldn’t be talking about it. Driving the Insight has caused me to start thinking about my consumption in everything I do. I wonder how much less people would consume if they were forced to see how much they were consuming. Water comes out the faucet and right down into the drain and we don’t get a visual of how much we’re using. What if we could see that?
Turns out there’s an answer for that, according to this LA Times article. In San Francisco the water company started giving consumers a report that showed how their water consumption compared to the water consumption of similarly sized households. The result was that the consumers receiving the reports used 5% less water than they had been using before seeing the report. Sunny thinks it’s terrible that they only improved by 5%, but keep in mind that these weren’t people looking for ways to reduce. They were just people that were handed a report.
So maybe of we’re forced to look at our consumption, we’re more likely to consume less. I know I think about it every time I drive my Honda Insight.