At MyDomino, we’re big fans of getting to 100% clean energy. Going solar, signing up for a clean power plan, and switching to LEDs are all great.

But 100% clean energy isn’t just about what you can do in your home. It’s also about your transportation — which accounts for a large portion of your environmental impact.

Read on to see how you can help the environment — and your pocketbook — by riding electric.

The rise of electric cars

People talk about electric cars (EVs) as if they were something new. But did you know that the electric car is 125 years old? The first electric car came out in 1891, and during 1900 – 1908, 28% of all vehicles produced in the United States were powered by electricity.

The Model T, a gas-powered car, changed that. Its mass production made it cheaper than electric cars, and the gas used to power it was also cheap and plentiful.

These days, gas prices are volatile — and more important, we’re seeing the environmental effects of our long-standing gas habit.

So in the last 5 years, electric cars have started taking off again. In that time, over 1 million EVs have taken to the world’s roads. In just the next 5 years, that number is expected to increase almost tenfold. Given how so many clean technology predictions pan out, we won’t be surprised if we beat this one.

EV sales have gone up 60% in the past year, and that kind of growth can take off fast — thanks to the technology adoption “S curve.”

It looks like we’re headed for a new “golden age” of electric cars.

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electric cars

“2013 Red Nissan Leaf SL” by Daniel.Cardenas

Why drive electric?

An obvious reason to drive electric is that electric cars are simply cleaner.

No car — in fact, no manufactured product — is 100% environmentally clean. Electric cars are no exception. However, electric motors are about 3 times more efficient than gas engines, which more than makes up for any manufacturing emissions.

How clean your ride is depends on where you live. In places with cleaner electricity sources, you’ll be producing lower emissions than in places where electricity is generated by dirty fossil fuels. And some electric cars are cleaner than others. Of course, if you power your car with solar power or a clean power plan, you’ll know you really are driving clean.

Another reason to drive electric is that it’s just a lot of fun! EV owners love their electric rides, and most of them can’t imagine going back to a gas-powered car. Their feeling is summed up by what’s known as the “EV grin” — the expression people get on their face when first driving an electric car.

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solar-powered car

You can afford it!

There’s yet another great reason to drive electric. You can actually save money!

Till very recently, electric cars were out of reach for most people. But things are changing fast.

Take the most popular electric car out there now, the Nissan Leaf. After federal tax credits, this car will run you less than $22,000 — well below the average $32,000 sticker price for gas-powered cars.

You’ll also save in other ways:

  • Fuel savings: Powering your EV will cost much less than gassing up. The U.S. Department of Energy has come up with a direct comparison that they call the eGallon — the cost of fueling a vehicle with electricity compared to a similar vehicle that runs on gasoline. They’ve determined that on average, you can save 50% – 75% on fuel for your electric car. To compare the cost of driving electric with gas-powered driving in your area, check out this great eGallon calculator.
  • Solar savings: You’ll save even more if you power your car with solar panels on your roof (or in a community solar installation). That’s because you’ll also be saving money on your electricity.
  • Charging at night: If you pay more in your area for electricity at peak use times, you can save by charging your EV overnight, when electricity is cheapest.
  • Lower insurance costs: EVs cost less to insure than gas-powered cars.
  • Financing: With leasing options available, as well as low-cost loans, financing your new electric car can make it even easier to afford. As EVs keep improving, many drivers are choosing to lease so they can trade up when better batteries are introduced.

You’ll also save on maintenance, thanks to electric motors being so much simpler than gasoline engines. So, if you’re worried about your mechanic getting lonely, then an electric car may not be for you.

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ride electric

Long electric car trips are easier than ever

What about range anxiety? That’s the term for the very natural worry that an electric car won’t stay charged long enough for all your trips.

The fact is, most people drive well under the 80 – 100 miles a day that the average EV battery charge will cover. And most people find that charging at night at their own home is more than enough. Plus, batteries are improving quickly.

Another thing that’s improving is EV infrastructure. As the number of electric car drivers increases, so does the number of charging stations. These stations are making it much easier for EV drivers to fill up in the middle of longer trips.

There are already 16,000 charging stations and counting in the U.S. The White House has plans to increase that number, and make range anxiety a thing of the past by 2020.

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Not ready for all-electric driving?

If you’re still not convinced, you may want to consider these options:

  • One EV per family: Is yours one of the 57% of American families who drive two cars or more? If so, you might trade one in for an electric car, and keep the gas car for longer trips. Many people are taking this first step in the switch to driving electric.
  • Hybrid cars: If you have a one-car family, or if you want to make an impact with your second car, you might want to switch to a hybrid. You can choose a regular hybrid, like the popular Toyota Prius, which doesn’t require plugging in to charge. These cars are a great option for apartment dwellers and people who have to park on the street, and have no place to plug in. Or you can opt for a plug-in hybrid, and still avoid range worries.

Hybrid car owners save an average of $1,000 a year on fuel. And hybrids also help the environment, producing about 30% less harmful emissions than a regular gas-powered car.

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self-driving cars

Other options: Electric bikes and scooters

Here’s an even better way to save money and the planet: ride a bike! Biking comes with numerous benefits, including a boost to your health. And it will save you even more money than driving an electric car!

We realize bikes don’t work well for everyone. You may live in a hilly area, or your commute may feel just a bit too long for comfortable biking.

That’s why we’ve done extensive research on electric bikes. These rides are getting more and more people onto bikes, and changing the way we commute. For more on bikes, both regular and electric, check out our Guide to Biking.

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Making the choice

You have so many choices these days for riding electric. How do you decide which one is right for you?

We can help! If you’re thinking about switching to an EV or hybrid, or buying an electric bike or scooter, our concierges are on hand for guidance. Contact a MyDomino energy savings concierge today to get started on your road to clean rides and savings!

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