03/08/2013 11:54 am ET Updated May 08, 2013

3 Ways Alternative Energy Cars Can Save Drivers Money in 2013

Everyone knows that alternative energy cars can save you money on gas, but there are other ways that these cars can decrease the impact your means of transportation has on your wallet.

After hitting the market 15 years ago, alternative energy cars have become a cultural icon of sorts and are no longer a niche product for environmental activists. Today, the Toyota Prius, one of the first cars on the market, is the third best selling car in the United States, the world's largest car market. Alternative energy vehicles are also very popular in China, the second largest car market that is poised to eclipse the U.S. in the coming years.

Today, many consumers are still looking to trade in an old gas guzzler for a fuel-efficient vehicle; however, many are still not sold on a hybrid. Many, in fact, would still prefer a Hemi. But with peak oil nearing, or passed, it may be smart to remind everyone why a hybrid isn't something drivers should just consider.

1.  Cutting the Number of Times Drivers Visit the Pumps

Consuming less gasoline is the primary advantage boasted by hybrid vehicles, and the savings are considerable, especially considering the situation gas prices are in. Gas prices fluctuate, but they are still very high -- in some states unbearably so. Residents in California and Hawaii pay more than $4.50 a gallon, on average. In some places a gallon of gas can cost more than $5.

Some alternative energy cars like the Prius, use just a little gas; and other electric models, like the Ford Focus Electric, don't use gas at all. Though it is hard to put a general estimate on the total savings of drivers, many estimate that families spending upwards of $300 a month could save more than $1,200 a year. Plus, since hybrid and electric cars are becoming more popular, advertisers have started footing the bill for gas costs. There are now self-service electric plugs in certain locations that drivers can use to charge their electric cars completely free of charge. The free electric plugs subsidize their electricity costs by playing ads while the car charges, and these free plugs are becoming more popular today.

2. Lower Prices of Hybrids Magnify Gas Savings

Electric and hybrid cars are becoming cheaper, which is good as in earlier years, the cost of the electric car made the savings in gas less important as it would take years to make up the difference in sticker price.

This is no longer the case.

Many electric and hybrid cars are now far less expensive because the methods used to produce them are cheaper, they're being produced in bulk as sales have been so high, and the government now subsidizes the cost of the production.

3. Discounts and Consumer Tax Breaks

There are Federal tax breaks available to consumers who purchase alternative energy cars as the current administration recognizes that we have to move away from our dependence on oil, for a whole host of different reasons.

This means that they are trying to do everything they can do to encourage people to make responsible energy choices. If you buy an electric car, you can get a tax credit that will give you money back from the government at the end of the year. This is a tax credit, not a tax deduction, which means that you'll get the full amount of the credit returned to you if you don't owe any more taxes. This credit, depending on the type of vehicle and its market price, can be up to $7,500, and it can be taken retroactively if you did not know about the credit during earlier years that it was in effect.

Additionally, drivers all over the country are now eligible for discounts on their car insurance if they drive fuel efficient cars -- even in Texas. Some companies, like The Hartford, are hoping to capture the business of the growing base of hybrid owners by offering up a 5 percent discount on their customers' car insurance rates.

An alternative energy car isn't just eco-friendly, it's also budget-friendly. An alternative energy car let's you be a role model to your family and friends while saving money and saving the environment.