Hybrid Electric Vehicles: Pros And Cons

In the past few years, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) have been getting a lot of press, both good and bad. As with any new technology—that is, any technology newly offered to the public—there are proponents and opponents to the wide use of HEVs. Pros and cons are bandied about freely, and it can be difficult for the average person to weed out any useful information. Here is a brief, simple synopsis of the advantages and disadvantages of HEVs.

The most obvious benefit of HEVs is lowered environmental impact. A vehicle that’s powered solely by electricity produces absolutely no emissions. Admittedly, a hybrid vehicle does emit some carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but only from the gasoline-driven engine. If your vehicle is powered by electricity 50% of the time, it will reduce harmful exhaust emissions by 50%.

Hybrid vehicles are quieter, and cause less noise pollution—an important consideration in urban areas. The engine only runs when the vehicle is being actively propelled forward. Over time, this trait also cuts down on overall energy consumption.

Another obvious benefit is that HEVs run on a fuel source that is already readily available, and that does not depend on foreign oil. The United States already has numerous electrical power plants that are already producing vast amounts of electricity.

For the most part, hybrids are easy to fuel up. The majority of hybrid vehicles on the market today have batteries that can be plugged in and recharged; an adaptor allows most hybrid owners to “fuel up” their vehicles at home. Some cities make charging stations available, as well.

However, there are downsides, as well. HEVs use a lead-acid battery. These can take a long time to charge, sometimes as long as 10 hours. This is not so much of a problem if you’re at home and plan on leaving your car to charge overnight, but it can be decidedly inconvenient when you’re traveling. In the future, as HEVs become more prevalent, you can expect charging stations with the capacity to charge batteries in a fraction of that time will to become available.

Another drawback is that while hybrids do vary somewhat in the distance that they can travel on a fully charged battery, the average is about 60 miles per charge. Again, this isn’t much of an obstacle for a hybrid vehicle, which can switch over to gasoline power at need—but decidedly inconvenient for a car with fully electrical propulsion (EV). In addition, the batteries have a limited shelf life—roughly three years—and are extremely expensive to replace.

Researchers are experimenting with other types of battery, such as nickel-metal hydride, nickel cadmium, and lithium-ion batteries. At present, these types could offer better performance, but the costs are prohibitive.

Lastly, the purchase cost of a hybrid vehicle is a major deterrent for many people who are considering “switching over.” HEVs are still more significantly more expensive that their gasoline-driven counterparts. To some degree, decreased fuel consumption, better fuel economy, and reduced maintenance costs serve as a counterbalance to the higher cost. There are also governmental tax credits, at the federal and sometimes even at the state level, for individuals who purchase hybrid vehicles.

Is it worth it to replace your current vehicle with an HEV? That depends. Only you can say. Do your research, and do the math. Look at all of the different factors involved, and make an educated decision. Only you can know if an HEV is the best choice given your life, your preferences, and your budget.

Top 10 Secrets Of Federal Government Employee Discounts

Although government jobs are some of the most stable careers in the economy, federal employees are still watching their bank accounts and trying to save money. The good news is that many companies offer public servants deals on vacations, clothes, phones, auto insurance and home improvement. We have researched and compiled a list of the Top 10 Secrets of Federal Government Employee Discounts.

1. Food

10 percent discounts are offered to military members dining at IHOP, Denny’s, T.G.I Friday’s, Long John Silver’s and the Hard Rock Cafe. Applebee’s also offers a 15 percent discount at selected locations.

2. Clothing

10 percent discounts are offered at Nautica and New York and Co. Fans of Old Navy know the company offers a discount on the first of every month. These discounts can also be used in conjunction with coupons and other methods of saving.

3. Auto Parts
5 to 10 percent is offered at Kragen Auto Parts. Advance Auto Parts offers active and retired military members 10 percent off. AutoZone offers military discounts as well.

4. Insurance

Depending on the state, Geico offers between 3 to 10 percent off automobile insurance. Liberty Mutual also offers car insurance discounts.

5. Home Improvement

Lowes and The Home Depot offer 10 percent discount at most locations. The government is also offering up to $1,500 in tax rebates for installing energy-efficient products. LongFenceandHome.com offers a discount to federal employees and military personnel on a wide variety of products and services.

6. Eyes

Group Health Eye Care offers a 20 percent discount on prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses. Additionally, there is a one-time offer of 20 percent on contact lenses.

7. Gyms

Washington Sports Club offers 33 percent discount on their monthly membership fee.

8. Travel

When planning a trip, Govarm.com is our recommended site for vacation and leisure services. However, some other respected government travel sites are: Club Quarters, Government Vacation Rewards, Holiday Inn Express, and La Quinta Inns and Suites.

9. Communication and Technology

Verizon offers a 20 percent discount on phones, calling plans and accessories. When looking for home computing software and hardware consult Dell. They offer at least 10 percent when purchasing their products. Do you prefer Macs? Apple has recently offered various discounts on iPods and computers.

10. Fedsave and RecGov

These are the top recommended sites for searching government discounts. offers a subscription which includes a free monthly newsletter highlighting savings and special offers on everything discussed above.

Government discounts are abundant, but are often overlooked. With some quick research, you may find yourself saving a lot of money.

Using The “autograph” To Get Cheap Motor Insurance

What if your motor insurance provider told you that you could get up to 25 percent discounted from your next car insurance policy simply by showing them that you were a safe driver? It would sound obvious won’t it – after all, basically, isn’t that what a no claims bonus is all about? Well, you can guess again, because with the new “autograph” device getting up to 25 percent discounted on your car insurance policy in the years to come is going to be a very real experience!

What Is The Autograph?

Basically, an “autograph” is a device that you ask a garage to plug into the diagnostic part of your car (which can be found underneath your steering wheel). The autograph will then record all of your driving skills, including how fast you drive, your average speed, whether or not you need to suddenly break (and, if so, how often), the times of the day that you like to be out and about on the roads, what your average mileage is, what your longest and shortest journeys are. In fact, the list is endless. After a pre-determined period, say three or six months, you then return to garage that installed the autograph and they will uninstall it and replace it with a new one. The old autograph is then plugged into a computer and all the requested recorded data is feed into a computer and sent to your motor insurance provider. Your motor insurance provider can then take a look at all of this recorded data and can decide, more accurately, if you are a high or low risk driver!

Benefits of the Autograph

If you are a good driver, the benefits of agreeing to use an autograph are easy to see – after all, recorded data rarely lies! The downside to using an autograph is the fact that it is recording the data collected in the car. This has two effects – first, you have to have a car capable of recording this data (i.e., not too old); second, the data collection cannot differentiate between drivers. As such, if you have a car in your house that is driven by several different people, the autograph will not be able to tell who is driving the car at any given time. Consequently, if you have your son or daughter on your car insurance and they tell you they like to drive at 50 miles an hour, while the autograph tells the motor insurance provider they like to drive at 120 miles an hour, it’s not likely you are going to be getting the 25 percent policy premium discount you were looking for!

All in all though, as with pay per mile car insurance, getting cheap car insurance using an autograph device, although being the way of the future, is here to stay and will most probably benefit far more motor drives than it inhibits.