A Gift of ‘Fuel-tide’ Savings
Whether driving to “grandmother’s house” or anywhere else for the upcoming winter holidays, you can start saving money on gasoline even before you hit the road with some planning and basic vehicle maintenance.
“We shouldn’t have to worry that the cost of gasoline will keep us away from our loved ones this season,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. “And while the average U.S. household will spend about $3,475 on gasoline to power its vehicles this year, drivers can minimize their fuel use and costs – and keep more money in their wallets for gifts and other holiday fun – with our smart driving tips and fuel-efficiency videos.”
Tips for Vehicle Maintenance
- Tune up. Fixing a car that’s out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%, saving $74 a year. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%, or almost $1,200!
- Keep tires properly inflated to improve mileage by up to 3.3%, or $55 a year. Proper inflation also improves tire longevity and 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.
- Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering your gas mileage by 1-2%, wasting up to $36 annually.
- 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 $36 a year.
- Also nix a loaded roof rack, which can cut fuel economy by 5%, or $89 per year.
Tips for Smart Driving
- Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration, and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds, wasting $890/year, and by 5% around town, wasting $89/year.
- Avoid speeding. Mileage usually decreases rapidly above 50 miles per hour. DOE says each five mph over 50 is like adding as much as 24 cents per gallon to the price of gas.
- Avoid idling, which wastes a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on engine size.
- Use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, save gas and money.
- 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.
- And don’t forget to 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!
Tips for Smart Commuting
- 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 and can further improve your fuel economy.
- Also consider telecommuting from home, if your employer permits it. You can save $416/year by telecommuting twice a week.
- Look into public transit options, too. The American Public Transportation Association has links to information about public transportation in each state.
- Michael Timberlake; (202) 448-8758