Save Gas, Save Money

Real Estate

Save Gas, Save Money 

Gasoline consumption has reached an all-time high, as have gasoline prices. Four dollars a gallon is coming soon to a gas station near you. Oil companies post record profits and have finally come clean about the reason: there’s no shortage. They just want to make record profits. Unfortunately, in this country we’re all prisoners to our cars, so we’re prisoners to the ever-increasing gas prices. We’re just stuck with it. Or are we?

There are things you can do to lower your consumption of gasoline. Sure, they’re little things, and they don’t release us completely from our shackles, but taken together they can ease the burden as much as it can be eased.

-Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and braking wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in town. It’s also safer.

-Drive the speed limit! Gas mileage decreases exponentially at speeds above 60 mph. (For each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph, you’re paying an extra $.20 per gallon!) A little known benefit of driving the speed limit in town is that stop lights are timed according to the legal limit. So if you drive the speed limit, you’re more likely to miss the red lights. Less stop and go = better gas mileage.

-Remove excess weight from your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your gas mileage by 2 percent.

-Don’t warm your car up before driving. In the olden days, conventional wisdom dictated that a warmed up car performed better. Bunk. An idling car gets 0 miles to the gallon.

-Use your cruise control. Keeping an even speed saves gas.

-Use your overdrive gears. This reduces your engine speed, saving gas and reducing engine wear all at the same time.

-Keep up on your tune-ups. A tuned up car always outperforms one that’s out of whack. You can improve your gas mileage anywhere from 4 to 40 percent!

-Check and replace air filters regularly. If your air filter is clogged, you’re reducing your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent. This will also protect your engine.

-Keep your tires properly inflated. Making sure your tires are properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by 3.3 percent. You’ll also make your tires last longer.

-Use the recommended grade of motor oil. Using just any old oil can lower your mileage by 1 to 2 percent. You should also look for motor oil that says “energy conserving” on the API performance symbol. This means the oil contains friction-reducing additives.

-Plan and combine your outings. If you have to go to the dry cleaners, the grocery store and piano lessons, do it all in one trip. You’ll avoid retracing the same route and using unnecessary gasoline.

-See if you can change your work schedule to avoid driving in rush-hour traffic. By driving in off-peak hours, you avoid sitting in traffic, you keep your blood pressure lower and you consume less gas. Or even better, see if your employer offers a telecommuting option, perhaps a day or more working from home. Talk about savings!

-Think about buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle. To compare vehicles, go to www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/ratings2008.shtml.  

Don’t bother:

-Driving with the windows down instead of using the air conditioner. There’s no difference in fuel economy.

-Spending your hard-earned money on additives, special magnets or other gimmicky products that promise to improve a car's fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent in some cases. Consumer Reports and the EPA have tested them all and haven’t found one that works.

-Buying higher-octane gas. It costs 40-60 cents more per gallon and improves your mileage by a fraction. The costs outweigh the benefits by a country mile.