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By: Laurie Fielder

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Car Alternatives for Country Folk

Energy Savings | Saving and Budgeting

According to AAA, the average cost of car ownership is roughly $8,000 per year. Fuel and repair costs are increasing, and transportation is often the largest household budget item for a Vermont family when factoring in car payment, insurance, repairs, and fuel.


What alternative travel arrangements might work for you?


It seems like we are hearing about new transportation methods almost weekly; from Uber to electric vehicles, self-driving cars to electric and cargo bikes. Many of these seem like interesting options, but we live in Vermont! How are we going to really get around in the winter, or during mud season? What about those of us who live in a rural location and commute a long way to work? Who can really make use of a cargo bike every day to commute to work? What about the cost of an alternative?


When no car alternative exists, the best alternative could be an energy efficient car.

Learn more about hybrids and electric cars.

When you're ready, find out how VSECU can help you FINANCE YOUR GREEN VEHICLE.


While these are all good and relevant questions, maybe the most important question to ask ourselves is, “Can I do something, big or small, to change how I get around?” Most of us would like to explore car alternatives or ways to improve our commute, reduce costs, and reduce our carbon footprint, but how do we know where to start?


 Make small changes in your commute to see if they work.


When looking for ways to travel without a car, small changes are easier to try and see if they work for us before considering bigger changes. Here are some ideas, small and large, that can help to guide our commuting choices:

  • Save a trip by combining errands with your regular commute.
  • Investigate public transportation options in your commuting range.
  • Find a co-worker or friend who will pilot a carpooling arrangement, even once a week or twice a month.
  • Walk or bike to work on occasion if safe and practical—Try an e-bike! Yes, that’s a bike that offers electric assistance to help you with those Vermont hills!
  • Try walking, biking or taking the commuter bus to appointments or meetings.
  • Learn about electric car (plug-in or hybrid) options. There are more available every year, and you can explore them to see if they may be a good option when you do replace your car.
  • Consider leasing an electric vehicle for commuting purposes to see if this option works for you.


There are days when public transportation or the carpool won’t work because of a mid-day doctor’s appointment, or school events right after work, but let’s not allow these days to prevent us from breaking the solo commuting habit. Look at your commute from a different perspective and think creatively. Change can be hard, and sometimes when we try something new that takes us away from our usual routine, it can feel challenging. But think of the benefits.


Looking for new ways to save energy? Download our eBook!

About Laurie Fielder

Laurie directs VSECU’s statewide VGreen energy savings loan program. Previously, she worked for the weatherization program at the Central Vermont Community Action Council (now Capstone), and for a successful residential solar installer. She enjoys helping Vermonters learn about efficiency and renewable financing options that maximize the savings of these smart investments. She lives in Woodbury with her family and enjoys the outdoors, walking the dog, and tackling home improvement projects.