Sunday, April 1, 2012

Save Gas, Save Money: 10 Tips for Getting More Miles Per Gallon

So by now you've probably noticed the ridiculously insane prices of gas. There's no way around it for many of us who have to drive to class every day during the week, not to mention running errands, driving to work, driving to friends' houses - there's no way around it, gas is a huge expense for most of us! But take heart, there are was to conserve your gas, which means filling up less often and saving more money! To learn how, read on.

 1. Lay off the gas pedal! Every time you touch your gas pedal to accelerate, you're using gas - meaning you're spending money. The less you touch that pedal, the more you save! So if you see a stop light up ahead, take your foot off the gas. If you're rolling down a hill, take your foot off the gas. If you're in traffic and the car in front of you moved forward, don't touch that gas pedal - just let your car roll! The less you accelerate (and the less you have to brake, which means you wasted gas) the more you save. Practice letting your car coast as you go down a hill, come to a stop sign or red light and during traffic rather than hitting the pedal and watch the savings add up. And avoid road rage - speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent while driving in the city. 

2. Clean out your car. If you needed a good reason to clean it out, this is it - carrying around extra stuff in your means your car has to work harder and use more gas, especially if your extra stuff is heavy. If you're guilty of having a full trunk or carrying around boxes of stuff that you don't really need, now's the time to move it all inside! You can save up to 9 gallons of gasoline per year – almost $40 – by removing an extra 100 pounds of unneeded items from the trunk.

 3. Give your car a checkup. When was the last time your car got checked over? Do you need an oil change? Are your brakes OK? Do your tires need air? ... No idea? You could save gas by getting a tune-up, and it's FREE to get a checkup at most car places (Midas will give you a FREE break check and check the rest of your car for FREE too! It takes about an hour as you wait) or at your dealership. Make sure your car is in tip-top condition so you are getting the maximum miles per gallon.

 4. Crack a window. Operating the air conditioner on "Max" can reduce mpg by 5 – 25% compared to not using it. Open up the window and enjoy the spring breeze instead! Note: this is gas efficient at low speeds, but not efficient at high speeds, so instead, try to keep your air conditioner on a lower setting if you're on the highway.

 5. Combine trips and plan ahead. Ever found yourself driving to the same place twice in one day? Well, that's a waste of gas if you can combine those two trips into one! Plan your errands on your way to or from work or school, combine your errands into one trip and plan the most efficient route. If your errands can wait, make one day your "Errand day" and get everything done all at once so you don't have to make multiple trips. The less you drive, the more gas you save!

 6. Carpool. Is there anyone who can chip in for gas for a ride to class each day? Maybe your roommate needs to go to the grocery store and you guys can split the cost of gas. Or maybe you can bum a ride to a party with a friend. However you do it, carpooling saves money. If you're taking a road trip or going home on the weekend, post about it in your school's classifieds or see if there's a ride-share section online or in the paper (or, try Craigslist). The more people you ride with (and divide up the gas with), the cheaper your trip is! 

7. Don't Speed. Unless you're on the highway, don't go over 60 mpg: each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas. And on the highway, make sure you're driving at the speed limit - speeding tickets will cost you around $200, and that's NOT worth getting there 5 minutes faster!

 8. Don't idle your car. It's bad for your wallet and it's bad for the environment. If you're sitting in your car, crack a window and turn it off, whether your parked or just waiting for a train to pass.

This is one way to save gas money, but I don't recommend it.
 9. Consider traffic conditions. If you find yourself driving home in rush-hour traffic every day, spend some time reading a book or enjoy a coffee in the sunshine before you drive home to avoid traffic. Stop-and-go traffic is incredibly gas inefficient, involves a lot of idling, causes stress and takes forever. Avoid it as much as you can, even if it means waking up a few minutes earlier.

 10. Use other means of transportation. Sure, it might not be as fast, but taking the bus or walking saves you a LOT of gas! Most campuses have free bus service available for students, and you can usually walk just about everywhere on campus. If you've ever driven 5 minutes to class just because you didn't feel like walking, definitely reconsider: walking is healthy, it's nice and warm outside, and you'll be saving money. At the very least, take the bus! Heck, you have to pay for it anyway in your tuition, might as well use it.

 When you do need to fill up, download the GasBuddy app for your smart phone to find out where the cheapeast gas is near you, or use the GasBuddy website! Just don't go way out of your way to save a couple of cents - that would be a waste of gas.

 Other ways to save on gas:

  • Pay with cash. Some gas stations give a discount for this.
  • Use the Kroger Fuel Rewards program to save on gas at Kroger. Some people like to buy a $50 gas gift card just to get the $.10/gallon discount, and then use it to pay for the gas! How's that for clever? 
  • Do some mystery shops at gas stations! Or, plan a mystery shop on a trip or errand to help pay for your gas. Learn more about mystery shopping here. 
 You can read some more gas-saving tips in this article and also in this one.

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