Gas is expensive, no two ways about it. The good news is that prices tend to drop once we get to the back half of summer, and Florida gas prices are below the national average. But even with gas prices slowly creeping down, there’s no assurance that they won’t shoot back up again. Luckily, there is an abundance of tips for gas savings.
Here is a list of ways to save that will make an impact on your wallet. Track your changes using a notebook stored in your glovebox or with a gas-tracking app. That way, you can be sure to implement the changes that will maximize your savings.
1. Drive Smarter
Don’t Drive Aggressively
Consuming less gas equals buying gas less often, which means spending less money on gas. Smart driving habits are easy changes to implement that will make a big difference on gas consumption. Driving aggressively—including rapid acceleration, cruising at high speeds, and sudden braking—reduces the fuel economy of your vehicle by nearly 25 percent.
Air Conditioning Use
One of the other main reductions to your fuel economy is blasting your air conditioner. Using the A/C, particularly during shorter trips, can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 25 percent. To increase efficiency, try to use the air conditioner when driving at highway speeds, and roll your windows down when driving slower as much as you comfortably can. Open windows while driving fast increases air drag, which also decreases fuel efficiency. Also, instead of just setting your A/C to max, try to optimize the car’s temperature with lower settings. Finally, don’t let your car idle while you use the A/C to cool your car down. Most air conditioners actually work better while driving.
Reducing the amount of time your car idles in general is a good idea. Letting your car idle for long periods can use up ¼ to ½ gallon of gas per hour.
Keep Tires Inflated
Another way to maximize fuel economy is by keeping the pressure of your tires at their recommended level. The Department of Transportation estimates that you lose 0.2 percent fuel economy for every one PSI your tires are underinflated. Underinflated tires also wear down faster, which costs you money to replace. You can usually find the recommended PSI for your tires embossed on the side of your tires or on a sticker in the driver-side door jamb.
2. Drive Less
One key way consumers can spend less money on gas is by driving less often. Automobiles have an optimum driving temperature, where their systems are operating at the most efficient. It can take several miles for the car to reach that optimal state. Short trips can mean that your car operates less efficiently more of the time. Try to combine errands or trips into one longer trip, so your car stays optimal for longer. Also, see if it’s reasonable to walk for shorter trips instead of driving. Not only will you spend less on gas, walking is an easy way to increase your overall health.
Parking Lot Habits
How and where you park matters as well. Avoid the temptation to circle a parking lot looking for the best spot. Americans reportedly spend an average of 17 hours per year searching for parking, which is a lot of wasted gas. Parking in covered spots can increase fuel efficiency as well. In cold weather, cars can take longer to reach their optimal operating temperature, and hot weather increases the need for air conditioning to cool the car down. Garages, covered parking, and shaded parking can reduce the amount your car is exposed to extreme temperatures.
3. Buy the Right Gas
One way customers often spend more on gas than they need to be is by buying a higher grade of gasoline than is necessary for their car. Tests have shown that buying higher octane gas than your car needs offers no increase in fuel efficiency. The majority of today’s cars run perfectly fine on regular gasoline. In very few cases will a high-performance engine require premium gasoline, and if so, it will be clearly stated in the car’s manual and on the gas cap. If the car requires premium gas, it will say “required”. If the manual or gas cap only says “recommended”, experiment with a lower grade of gas. If you don’t notice a difference, you can save more than $0.50 per gallon by using regular instead of premium gasoline.
4. Buy Gas for Less
You probably have noticed that gas prices vary based on location. Gas tends to be more expensive if the filling station is just off the highway, for example. It’s not necessarily more efficient to simply buy gas from the least expensive station, however. If the drive across town to cheaper gas burns more gas than the value you’d save, you’re actually losing money to get gas cheaper.
Use Gas Price Trackers
Luckily, there are many phone apps that track gas prices. Even some phone navigation apps will post gas prices when you search for gas stations. Take a look at your regular routes and see where prices are cheapest.
Gas prices not only vary based on location, they also fluctuate based on the day. Mondays and Fridays tend to be the cheapest days of the week to fill up on gas. It’s important to note, however, that these days are based on national trends, and that there may be different days when gas is cheaper in your area. Use the same apps you’d use to find cheaper gas to make note of the prices each day to find when they tend to drop.
Gas Reward Programs
Also, check to see if your grocery store has a gas-rewards program. Many major grocery chains partner with gas companies to offer discounts at the pump. With careful use and planning, using a rewards credit card that offers cash back on purchases can also be a good way to save money when you fill up on gas.
5. Buy a Fuel-Efficient Car
While buying a car with better fuel-efficiency can make the largest impact on how often you need to fill up the tank, this comes with some major caveats. If you’re not actually in the market to buy a replacement vehicle for your current car, simply upgrading to a more fuel-efficient vehicle probably won’t save you money eventually, and the up-front costs of buying a car can be massive. Also, the price of fuel-efficient vehicles goes up when gas prices spike.
If you require a car, however, a fuel-efficient vehicle can save you hundreds—or even thousands—of dollars in yearly operating costs. There may also be tax credits available for buyers of certain fuel-efficient vehicles. FuelEconomy.gov has a Find and Compare tool that can help you find a car that delivers great fuel economy and also suits your needs.
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