Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thirty Days of Smart Money Choices -- Day VII

Stretch your gasoline dollars...

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

I just paid $50.00 to fill a mid-size car (about 12 gallons). So, that prompted me to come home and do some research about how to save money on gasoline.

As we already talked about, driving the speed limit will help you get more miles per gallon of gas. For most cars, the gasoline efficiency goes down if you exceed speeds of about 55 to 60 mph. Part of this has to do with the extra aerodynamic drag on your car, or, in other words, the increased drag from the air that your car experiences when you drive at faster speeds.

Also, most of us have figured out by now that it's a good thing to map your travels so that you can do several errands on one route. This is much better than either making several separate trips to do errands or else back-tracking when doing multiple errands. Think through how many stops you need to make and try to do them in a gas-efficient way.

Here are more tips:

1) Don't forget to utilize your accumulated grocery store points. Today, I lost out by not entering my points correctly. I was not at a Kroger station, but at another brand station which does accept Kroger points. I was trying to use my card, but misread the directions and did not receive my credit. Next time, I will know how to input my Kroger info. Using gas points from Kroger or other grocery stores will help you save some money per gallon, which can add up when gas is so costly. Publix will sometimes run deals in which you can get free gas cards for every $25.00 spent.
2) Empty any heavy items that you've been lugging around in your car that are heavy and not necessary to carry.
3) Keep your tires properly inflated. This not only helps with gas mileage, but increases safety, as well. Don't over inflate your tires, though. The risk of accident, injury, and death far outweighs any increase in gas mileage.
4) Know which grade fuel is recommended for your car. If you do not need a medium or high grade fuel, select the lowest grade option. Buying a higher grade fuel will not necessarily give you higher mpg. By the same token, buying the lowest grade will not guarantee that you save money. Find out what works for your car. We generally buy the lower grade fuel as that is fine for our cars.
5) Are you sitting in a traffic jam? Waiting to drive onto a ferry? Waiting for someone to get in the car? Avoid idling your car for more than one minute. After one minute, it is cheaper to turn your car off and to restart it when you are ready to move than it is to keep it idling. Again, you have to keep safety in mind. If you are in a situation in which you must move your car quickly, say when a long red traffic light changes to green, keep your car running.
6) From time to time, assess your car's gas mileage and performance. A drop in fuel efficiency could be due to a fixable problem. If you notice such a drop, take your car to a trusted mechanic for help.
7) Did you know that it is actually more economical to run your air conditioner at a low level than to drive with your windows down? When your windows are open, there is more air drag on your car, which means the car has to perform harder and burn more fuel to overcome the resistance. Of course, who can resist driving with your windows down on a beautiful spring day! But, if you choose to do so, make sure you're not doing it simply for economic reasons.
8) Accelerate gently and brake gradually. When you do accelerate, try to do it slowly and over the longest possible distance. (Keep safety in mind, of course. You do need to keep up with traffic into which you are merging.)
9) Fill up when you are near the spot in your area that has the lowest gas prices. This spot may change from day to day and week to week. But, if you are out and notice lower gas prices, stop and get at least a few gallons of gas. Sometimes, on trips, you can also time your breaks and gas stops to take advantage of lower gas prices. This is especially true if you are about to cross into one state with lower or higher prices and gas taxes than the one you are currently in.
10) Think carefully about applying hypermiling tips, no matter how tempting they may be. Hypermilers are people who are devoted to getting the most possible mileage out of each gallon of gas. While some of the methods they use are safe and economical, other methods that many hypermilers try are both dangerous and illegal in many states. For example, some hypermilers will try in order to tailgate to take advantage of the draft pulling from the front car. This tip might be ok on a race track. For real life driving, however, it is likely to cause an accident and is higly dangerous for the occupants of both cars. Trying to save a few cents at the risk of safety is not only foolish, but could cost way more in terms of suffering, grief, and money than sticking to safer methods of stretching gas dollars.

Be safe! Be thrifty! Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Great tips! Petrol (gasoline) in Australia is currently about $1.50 per litre (about $5.70/US gallon), so we are also trying to reduce our consumption. In Europe I believe that petrol is even higher than in the US or Australia.

I'd like to suggest an even thriftier option: driving less; perhaps commuting by bicycle or using public transport. Why not walk if your errand isn't far away?

I have four kids and we are trying to reduce our car usage by riding bicycles or catching buses to and from work and school. My husband is now the only one who commutes by car, and this will hopefully reduce our costs over time, as well as making us fitter and healthier.


Elizabeth said...

Hi Kate,

Yes, that is a good suggestion, both for saving gas and for health's sake, as well. My adult children live in areas where they can walk to shops and restaurants and appointments and the like, and it's so good for them.

Another idea is to carpool as much as you can.