Surprising Benefits of EV Ownership
By Bryn Huntpalmer
Dig around a little in the electric car news vaults, and you’ll start finding some publications with some very interesting claims, like how EVs helped their owners quit smoking or got them to switch to solar power. While we’re used to hearing about EVs’ environmental and financial benefits, we were curious to investigate allegations that they’d changed driver’s lives in these unforeseen ways—and that they could have some unintended consequences on our cities as well. Here are some of the most surprising and strange ways EVs are disrupting traditional automotives:
They can help you knock some unhealthy habits
Late in 2014, advocacy group Plug In America tipped off a small controversy after they published a tiny piece in their newsletter claiming that owning an electric car might help you quit smoking. The evidence? Merely anecdotal, of course, but coming from a pretty knowledgeable source—Nissan Leaf salesman Ray Ishak. Business Insider looked into the claims’ validity and quickly found that EV owners have been saying the same thing—once they bought their electric cars, quitting the coffin nail addiction was easier than ever. Their explanation was that gassing up provides a temptation—they’d built buying a pack of smokes into their refuel routine. Once they no longer needed to stop to fill up, they’d scrapped that and a potential host of other unhealthy behaviors as well—from sodas to candy to lottery tickets.
They can keep our cities cooler
The environmental impact of electric vehicles is obviously one of their top selling points, but sometimes it’s hard to understand what that means until you see it quantified. Michigan State University researchers did just that—working together with visiting scholar Canbing Li of Hunan University, they found that switching to electric for one summer could potentially reduce Beijing’s heat island intensity by almost one degree Celsius. In case one degree doesn’t seem like a lot, consider this—the scientists further hypothesized that that drop in temperature translated to a potential 4.4 million kilowatt hours saved, equalling a per-day CO2 emissions reduction of 11,779 tons.
They can help you enact some parking lot justice
This is for everyone out there who’s grumbled after seeing a beefy SUV wedge itself into a compact only spot. Every electric car driver out there knows the sting of being ICE’d—blocked from a charging station by an Internal Combustion Engine. In some cases, though, justice does prevail—The Guardian’s Justin Gerdes reports that when he was ICE’d out of a parking spot, the attendant made things right and slapped the offender with a big, fat parking ticket. But for those who fancy themselves as garage vigilantes, Blink, a popular charging station provider, has some courtesy notices you can print out and stick on yourself.
They could help grow solar power
Start using electricity to power your car, and you start thinking about where exactly that electricity is coming from. That’s the idea behind a startling finding from Opower, an environmentally-slanted data management firm: EV owners are 6.6 times more likely to own and use solar panels in their home. In fact, the link between solar and EVs is so inextricable that Time quoted Tesla investor Nancy Pfund as saying that these green vehicles “are the gateway drug to solar.” And actually, electric motors do function as a makeshift battery for solar storage. Paired with a PV array, they could potentially power devices and household items—definitely in the event of a power outage, at the very least. And the search for a more efficient charging solution could alter the face of both solar and EV tech as we know it. Last year, Case Western University announced that they were developing lithium batteries charged by tiny solar cells, meaning that one day, EVs may be purely sun-powered, leaving oil-guzzling combustion engines to the fate of the dinosaurs.
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.
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