A few weeks ago, gas prices at our local gas station were flirting with the $4 mark. Today, they’re about $0.30 lower, but still high. I thus thought it would be worth sharing this list of the ten ways to save money on gas from the Consumer Federation of America.
Note that I’ve sorted these ideas from the most to least effective, and that the estimated savings (on a per gallon basis) are based on gas priced at $3.85/gallon. This is sort of a strange way of calculating things, but I’ll run with it since that’s how it was presented.
- Don’t ride your brakes. Driving with your foot on the brake not only wears out your brakes, but can also reduce fuel efficiency by 35%. Take your foot off the brake, and you can save the equivalent of $1.35/gallon.
- Drive more smoothly. By accelerating and decelerating smoothly, you can improve your mileage by 33% on the highway and 5% around town. This works out to an equivalent of $0.68/gallon. See “Hack Your MPG” for my experience with driving smarter to save gas.
- (tie) Check your air filter. Having a clean air filter can improve mileage by as much as 10%, or an equivalent of $0.39/gallon.
- (tie) Check your alignment. A poor alignment not only wears out your tires ahead of schedule, it also reduces mileage by as much as 10%. Straighten things out and you can save the equivalent of $0.39/gallon.
- Don’t speed. Did you know that for every 5 mph you reduce your highway speed, you can reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7%? Slow down from 70 to 65, and you can save the equivalent of $0.27/gallon.
- Tune up your engine. A properly tuned engine can be as much as 4% more efficient, resulting in an effective savings of $0.15/gallon.
- Check your tire pressure. Improper tire inflation isn’t just dangerous – it can also be expensive. On average, car tires are 7.5% underinflated, resulting in a 2.8% loss in fuel efficiency. Inflate your tires and save the equivalent of $0.11/gallon.
- Lose (or remove) weight. For every 100 extra pounds that you carry around you can lose as much as 1-2% in fuel efficiency. Get rid of that junk in your trunk (or in your car’s trunk) and save the equivalent of $0.03/gallon.
- Check your fuel cap. A broken or missing gas cap can reduce mileage by as much as 1% and also harm the environment. Fix or replace it and save the equivalent of $0.03/mile.
- Don’t idle. For every two minutes of idling that you avoid, you can save the equivalent $0.01/gallon. It’s not a lot, but if you idle a lot (or spend a lot of time warming up your car) it can add up. After all, you’re burning gas and going nowhere for a grand total of 0 mpg.
To these, I would add: Drive less. Walking, biking, combining trips, telecommuting, and just plain old staying home are by far the most effective ways to reduce your fuel costs. After all, if you’re not driving, you’re not using gas. Period.