As gas prices approach record levels for the second time in 3 years, the impact on consumer’s finances cannot be understated. For many people, spending an extra $25 per week on gasoline can seriously limit their ability to pay bills and afford daily necessities. For those with debt problems, the situation can be even more dire. Unfortunately, driving less isn’t always an option for many Americans. Rather than continuing to throw money down the drain on gasoline, be proactive and take action! Here are some ideas to help you reduce your gas consumption and minimize the impact of high gas prices on your finances.
Committing to use less gasoline will require some major sacrifices. One of the most effective measures to save on gas is to limit how much you drive. Here are some options to consider:
Tips for Driving Less
Carpool W/ Co-Workers: Do you live near a co-worker? Or maybe you have a friend who lives nearby and works in the same area. Consider driving together and eliminate a vehicle. Maybe you could rotate days — or switch each week. This could cut your gasoline costs in half! Or, if someone has a more efficient vehicle (and they don’t mind driving everyday), consider splitting the weekly fuel costs — which will be even less with a higher mileage vehicle. Plus, many cities have “carpool lanes” that will make your trip even faster.
Work-From-Home: More and more businesses are seeing the value of allowing their employees to work from home. Some even feel that employees are more productive when they work from home. If your employer allows it then you should consider this option seriously. Even if it’s only for a few days per week, it will relieve you from having to deal with traffic and it will save you significant amounts of money on gas.
Walk or Ride Your Bike: Enjoy the health and financial benefits of doing it the old fashion way. Consider walking into town to run your daily errands, or ride a bike if your commute is longer. In congested areas it’s not unusual for a bicycle to be faster than a car since you can avoid traffic and use special bicycle lanes. You might even consider an electric bike — which operates just like a traditional bike but offers the option of electric-assist. No need to worry about parking and your gas savings will be substantial.
Use Public Transit: Not every city is blessed with public transit, but most major metropolitan areas have buses or trains that will allow you to travel around quite easily. Not only will you avoid extremely high gas prices, but you’ll avoid parking fees or a dreaded speeding ticket. Plus, you might even be able to bring your bike.
Tips for Getting Better Gas Mileage
If you driving less isn’t an option, or you’d like to further increase your savings, consider more efficient driving. Edmunds.com, a leader in automotive industry analysis, tested many popular gas-saving myths and came up with the following list of worthwhile methods for improving fuel efficiency:
- Quit Driving Aggressively
The most effective way to save on gas and increase fuel efficiency is to quit driving like a maniac! If you slam on the gas whenever you accelerate or don’t give yourself ample room to brake, it will seriously impact your gas mileage. According to Edmunds, by driving less aggressively you could create up to 37 percent savings. If you slowed your 0-to-60-mph acceleration time down from 10 seconds to a more normal 15 seconds, you’ll feel the savings immediately.
- Obey the Speed Limit
Although it may not have a huge impact in the city, if you obey the speed limit on the highway it can provide major savings of up to 14 percent. Although you may get there faster, traveling over the legal limit (65-70 mph in most states) can seriously limit your gas mileage.
- Use the Cruise Control
This is a popular tip for improving gas mileage and Edmunds proved it was effective for improving fuel efficiency. Cruise control will smooth out your ride, prevent accelerator “surging” and force you take the “long view” of the road rather than reacting to every change in traffic around you. Surprisingly, in tests it provided up to 14 percent in fuel savings (7 percent on average).
- Avoid Excessive Idling
Common sense tells you that turning off your car when it’s not in use will save you gas. And Edmunds recorded up to 19 percent savings when turning off a car for stops of 1 minute or more.
- Get Regular Tune-Ups
Although not included on Edmunds list, keeping your car running smoothly will improve it’s efficiency and performance. Replace air filters as needed and follow through with regular oil changes.
Popular Myths to Improve Fuel Efficiency
- Turn Off the AC – Roll Down the Windows
While the A/C compressor does pull some power from the engine and waste some gas, the effect is fairly minimal in modern cars. And putting the windows down when the A/C goes off tends to increase drag on most cars, canceling out any measurable gain from turning the A/C off in the first place.
- Check Your Tire Pressure
You’ve probably heard that properly inflated tires will improve your gas mileage. While this may be partially true and it can help extend the life of your tires, in Edmunds’ tests it had no significant impact on gas mileage. The experts point out that every car (and tire) is different and that you should test this on your own vehicle. But even if the savings are minimal, it might be worth monitoring your air pressure since some savings are better than none — and it’s easy to implement.
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