Walk, bike, carpool, or take mass transit as often as possible. You will save energy while enjoying nature. If you must drive, group errands together to reduce unnecessary trips. Also, be sure to keep your car well maintained and your tires properly inflated.
These easy tips can really make a difference:
- Accelerate more gradually. The harder you press the gas pedal the more juice you're pouring down the hole. Gas is consumed more quickly during hard acceleration so if you spare the horses when you get the green light, you stand to improve your mileage significantly. By tapping an SUV's big V8 routinely, for example, your mileage could drop from 16 to 12 miles per gallon. That doesn't sound like much but, in fact, it is a 25-percent reduction. Over the life of the car, the savings will add up.
- Anticipate stops. By keeping an eye ahead of you by half a block or so, you can see a light changing red and take your foot off the gas earlier. By coasting instead of driving under power, you're burning less fuel. Do you really need to accelerate right up to a stoplight? Why not back off the accelerator if that traffic light two blocks away is red? Glide until you get the green and then accelerate moderately. This not only saves gas but also your brake pads.
- Drive more slowly on the highway. We all want to get there fast, but shaving 5 or 10 miles per hour off your highway speed saves lots of gas, and probably won't add much time to your trip. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit is also safer.
Use Cruise Control. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
Shift gears earlier. If your car has a manual transmission, try shifting gears at a lower RPM. The higher your engine revs the more gas it burns.
- Pick your lane and stick with it. Traffic studies have shown that changing lanes doesn't result in a significantly reduced travel time. So why not choose your lane and put it in cruise control? This avoids constant surging as you speed into the open lane. It will lower your fuel consumption and your blood pressure.
- Pretend you're a hybrid. Ever notice how people like to leave their cars idling while they talk to their neighbor or jump out to run an errand? This wastes more gas than you would think. Most hybrids save gas by automatically shutting off at stoplights. We're not suggesting you do this. But if you are going to be motionless for a few minutes, shut 'er down.
- Can you carpool? There are some very cool things about carpooling besides just the gas savings. You can use the carpool lanes and share the driving. Also, say you're stuck in a boring meeting at work. Simply glance at your watch and say, "Sorry, I'm carpooling." Everyone knows you're doing a good thing for the environment so they will nod understandingly and excuse you. And did we mention the carpool lanes?
- Don't drive. How can "don't drive" be a driving tip? Well, we won't argue the point. But we will say that most people could stand to walk or ride a bike a lot more than they are doing now. So look for local errands that can easily be done under your own steam. A short walk might be faster because you don't have to spend time finding a parking space.
- Drive on off-peak hours. Sitting in traffic isn't much fun for you or your car. You could try adjusting your schedule to avoid the traffic jams. You will save time and quite a lot of fuel. If you can't change your work schedule, arrive early and spend the time in the gym, reading a book or doing extra work. Wouldn't you rather be doing something for yourself than burning gas sitting in traffic?
- Look for telecommuting opportunities. Does your employer insist on lots of "face time"? With rising gas prices and congested freeways, working from home one day a week might be an option that your employer will consider. Tell them that the time you save commuting you will use to increase your productivity.
- Lighten up! 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.
You could also try some untested methods like installing a team of gerbils in each tire or cutting holes in the floor of your car for Flintstones' power, but there are no guarantees. Change your style of driving according to the list above, and you can be guaranteed you'll save money at the pump.