Earth Day – A Good Time to Save at the Pump!
Alliance to Save Energy Offers Fuel-Economy Tips
As Earth Day approaches and gasoline prices inch toward a painful $4 a gallon, the Alliance to Save Energy suggests that drivers “put a premium” on fuel efficiency to save gas, money and the environment.
“Consumers cannot control fluctuations in global oil and gasoline prices,” says Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “But they can minimize fuel use and maximize savings with proper maintenance and smart driving, as demonstrated in our video tips.”
The Alliance has calculated that the average U.S. household will spend about $3,575 on gasoline to power its vehicles this year. Simple fuel efficiency measures, however, can cut those costs significantly.
- 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 $81 a year. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%, or almost $1,300!
- Keep tires properly inflated to improve mileage by up to 3.3%, or $60 a year, as 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 thepressure 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.
- Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering your gas mileage by 1-2%, wasting up to $39 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.
- 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 cut fuel economy by 5%, or $96 per year.
- Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by at highway speeds, wasting $973/year, and 5% around town, wasting $216/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, which 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. 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 your trips. 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!
- Choose a more fuel-efficient vehicle, whenever possible.
- Consider alternatives to driving solo. Take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs to cut your weekly fuel costs by as much as half – and save wear on your car. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle, or HOV, lanes which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy.
- Also consider telecommuting from home, if your employer permits it.
- Look into public transit options, too. The American Public Transportation Association has links to information about public transportation in each state.
- Find additional tips and resources on DOE’s fuel economy website.