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E-85: Healthier, Cleaner – and Cheaper!

Using E85 in your flex-fuel vehicle can save money and is good for the Wisconsin economy.
Using E85 in your flex-fuel vehicle can save money and is good for the Wisconsin economy.
June 17, 2013

BROOKFIELD, Wis. - With gas prices at or around $4 a gallon in much of Wisconsin, using E85 is a smart way to save money while doing some good for the environment, said Jerry Medinger, who manages the Clean Fuels and Vehicle Technology Program for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin.

"They're selling E85 for anywhere from 40 cents a gallon to a dollar a gallon less than regular unleaded," he explained. "There is a slight loss of fuel economy using E85, but that loss is more than made up for by that price differential."

Other benefits of using E85 include keeping the air cleaner, helping achieve energy security and boosting the economy, Medinger added.

"Local economies benefit from the use of a home-grown fuel. Wisconsin is the second-leading exporter of ethanol, next to Texas - it's the only energy resource that we have to export. The dollars spent for ethanol stay in our area, so it has a very good local economic impact," he noted.

There are a quarter-million flex-fuel vehicles in Wisconsin, and more than 8 million nationwide, that can use E85. The easiest way to tell if your vehicle can use E85 is to check your gas cap. If it's yellow, you have a flex-fuel vehicle.

Regardless of the cost savings achieved by using E85, Medinger said, it's always a good idea to save fuel whenever possible. He pointed to unnecessary idling as a real gas-waster. Other suggestions: make sure that tires are properly inflated, and avoid quick starts and stops.

"When all possible, the best thing to do is probably reduce the amount that you drive," Medinger said. "Summertime is one of those times in Wisconsin when we have other options: bicycling or walking."

Medinger also suggested making sure not to lug around extra weight in your vehicle. Remove items you don't need to carry, he said, because less weight means better fuel economy.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI