Get Used to Higher Gas Prices and Find Ways to Consume Less

February 2012, Edition 7, Vol. 2

According to the U.S. Department of Energy���s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the cost of crude oil accounts for about 7% of the gasoline pump price. As we all too painfully know, the cost of crude oil for U.S. refiners reached a record high in early summer 2008 (as did retail gasoline prices) due mainly to high worldwide oil demand relative to supply. Other contributing factors included political events and conflicts in some major oil producing regions, and other factors.

Almost all of the cars and trucks we drive run on fuels derived from oil. Oil is a non-renewable resource, and while there is some debate as to how long this resource will last, we will eventually have to find new ways to power highway vehicles. Until other alternatives are developed, it makes sense to use fossil resources such as oil more efficiently to buy time to develop new and better energy sources and to make the transition to these sources smoother and less expensive.

Here are some tips provided by the EIA to help you reduce the amount of gas you use. If you are already following these tips, you are probably getting the best gas mileage your car can deliver.

The stated costs savings are based on an assumed fuel price of $3.74/gallon.

Drive Sensibly--Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town. Continuous up and down acceleration and braking also squanders fuel. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.

�Ģ Fuel Economy Benefit: 5% to 33%
�Ģ Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.19-$1.23/gallon

Observe the Speed Limit���While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different range of speed, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 miles per hour (mph).

You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.26 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer.

�Ģ Fuel Economy Benefit: 7% to 23%
�Ģ Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.26-$0.86/gallon

Remove Excess Weight���Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle���s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.

�Ģ Fuel Economy Benefit: 1% to 2% per 100 lbs
�Ģ Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.04-$0.07/gallon

Avoid Excessive Idling���Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. If you are stopped in traffic, turn the vehicle off; don���t sit there and idle for ten minutes. Avoid drive-through windows with long lines. Park the car and go inside the business. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.

Use Cruise Control���Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

Use Overdrive Gears���When you use overdrive gearing, your car���s engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.

Keep Your Engine Properly Tuned��� If you perform regular maintenance checks you can save money. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%!

�Ģ Fuel Economy Benefit: 4%
�Ģ Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.15/gallon

Check and Replace Air Filters Regularly���Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car���s gas mileage by as much as 10%. Your car���s air filter keeps impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Not only will replacing a dirty air filter save gas, it will protect your engine.

�Ģ Fuel Economy Benefit: up to 10%
�Ģ Equivalent Gasoline Savings: up to $0.37/gallon

Keep Tires Properly Inflated���You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4% for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

�Ģ Fuel Economy Benefit: up to 3%
�Ģ Equivalent Gasoline Savings: up to $0.11/gallon

Combine Errands���Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. You���ll not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car.

Commuting���If you can stagger your work hours to avoid peak rush hours, you���ll spend less time sitting in traffic and consume less fuel. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets the best gas mileage whenever possible. Consider telecommuting (working from home) if your employer permits it. If possible, take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs. You can cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use special High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. Also consider using public transit if it is available and convenient for you.

Traveling���A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs with a smaller car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Avoid carrying unneeded items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 lbs. in the trunk reduces a typical car���s fuel economy by 1% to 2%.



Updated: Feb 5, 2012

Download the pdf

Coping with the high cost of gasoline

10 Good Habits for Saving Money on Gas

Consider Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) and Hybrid Electric Vehicles

A Lesson from 2008

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