Article

05/06/13

Energy Efficiency Driving Tips for Summer

The Alliance calculated that the average U.S. household will spend $3,300 on transportation energy costs this year. As demonstrated in the Alliance’s fuel efficiency tips video series, and in the tips below, proper vehicle maintenance and smart driving can help keep more of that money in your pocket.

Tips for Vehicle Maintenance

Inflate Your Tires

Keeping tires properly inflated can improve mileage by up to 3.3%, or about $61 a year (under-inflated tires can lower mileage by 0.3% for every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires). Proper inflation also improves tire longevity – and driver and passenger safety.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) cautions not to rely on the pressure setting on the tire’s sidewall, but to consult your owner’s manual or look for a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box.

Tune Up

Fixing a car that’s out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, saving about $82 a year. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%, or more than $1,300!

Get the Right Oil 

Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering your gas mileage by 1-2%, wasting up to $40 annually. DOE also advises looking for the phrase “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol to ensure that the oil contains friction-reducing additives.

Unpack & Unload

Get the junk out of the trunk! Remove unnecessary items in your vehicle’s trunk – an extra 100 pounds could reduce your mileage by up to 2%, wasting $40 a year.

Also nix a loaded roof rack, which can improve fuel economy by 5%, or $98 per year.

Tips for Smart Driving

Keep a Steady Pace

Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by at highway speeds, wasting about $980/year, and 5% around town, wasting about $98/year.

Avoid Speeding

Mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour. DOE says each five mph over 60 is like adding as much as 31 cents per gallon to the price of gas.

Avoid Idling

Idling gets 0 miles per gallon, wasting a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour depending on engine size and air conditioner use. Yet it takes only a few seconds’ worth of fuel to restart your engine.

Use Cruise Control & Overdrive Gear

Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, save gas and money. 

And don’t forget to engage the overdrive gear to reduce engine speed, which saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Plan Ahead

Combining errands into one trip saves not only time but money, too. Taking several short trips from a cold start each time can use twice as much fuel as one multipurpose trip covering the same distance with a warm engine.

Beat the Traffic

When possible, drive and/or commute during off-peak hours to avoid stop-and-go traffic. You’ll reduce stress as well as gas costs! 

For additional tips and resources, check out DOE’s fuel economy website.