Sunday, January 23, 2011

10 Things You Can Do Now to Save on Gas

Gas prices have been going up the past two months, and it doesn't seem like it'll come down anytime soon. To add insult to injury, former Shell CEO, John Hofmeister, predicted publicly that gas prices will be at around $5 per gallon by 2012. Ouch! Here in the SF Bay Area, $5 per gallon doesn't seem so far away already. A gallon of regular at the Chevron near me already sets me back $3.43. Even so, it's not practical to immediately switch to a more fuel efficient vehicle, but here are some things you can start doing right now to lower your gas expense:

1. Get all of that junk you've piled up out of your car. Adding weight to your car can make your car less fuel efficient. According to the Department of Energy, every 100lbs you add, it can reduce your efficiency by up to 2%.

2. Avoid starting the car up unnecessarily.  Every time you turn the engine on, it uses about as much gas as letting your engine sit idle for a minute. If you know you'll only be stopping for under 60 seconds, don't turn your car off.

3. On the other hand, don't stay idle for longer than a minute. Really, it doesn't help to warm up your car for more than 30 seconds. So don't start your car and just let it sit there. If you anticipate you're going to be there for more than one minute, turn your engine off. claims that you can save up to 19% just by avoiding excessive idling.

4. Get check ups regularly. Give your car the proper care it needs, and it'll take care of you. Take it to a trusted shop at the recommended time to make sure your tire pressures are okay, the motor oil you're using is correct, and there are no problems with the engine, etc. This will avoid unnecessary waste of gas.

5. Plan your trips. Think through where you'll have to be for the day (or even the week) and plan your route. Find out what the quickest way is of getting to each place. Also, stay organized as to what you need to do at each place. For example, bring a list to the grocery store so you don't leave out anything important and end up going back. This is not only good for saving gas, it's also good for saving money in general. The less trips you take, the more efficient you'll be during the trip, and the less likely you make compulsive purchases.

6. Stop driving like a crazy person! It's not just for the sake of the rest of us; it also saves you gas. The D.O.E suggests that aggressively accelerating and breaking can waste up to 33% more gas than driving patiently. So the next time you think about flooring it coming out of a red light, just think how much it'll hurt your wallet.

7. Use cruise control. This is an effective way to save during longer distance, flat surface trips. It makes sure you maintain a steady speed and can reduce your MPG by around 10%.

8. Unload/uninstall roof racks. They're great for outdoor trips, but take them down when they're not in use. Not only do they weigh your car down, they also change the aerodynamics of your vehicle.

9. Slow down, please. Driving at a higher speed lowers your fuel efficiency. The drop in efficiency increases much faster after you exceed 60mph. So stay within the speed limit, you won't lose much time, but it can save you some money.

10. Carpool. Yes, this is probably the most effective way to save gas. Adding another person to share your gas expense is a fast way to cut spending by almost half. More points if you can find more than 1 person. Even if you can only carpool twice a week, it can still reduce your fuel spending by a lot. And if none of your co-workers live near you? There are now websites that set up strangers to share rides. Some will even pay you. If you use these services, remember to check out insurance and safety information.

Put a few of these tips to work and leave more money in your wallet!


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