A fill up at the pump is costing more today than it did a year ago. Gas prices, the numbers show, are on the rise. If you’re looking to save money at the pump, you are not alone!
In late August, the national average for a gallon of gas was $2.83, according to AAA, which tracks the figure. That’s a nearly 20 percent increase from a year ago when a gallon cost about $2.36. Global politics, major weather events and increased demand during the summer travel season are partly to blame.
And while there is little that the average citizen can do about, say, international crises and massive hurricanes, they can make changes to save money at the pump.
Here are six ways to boost your fuel economy -- and save money, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and AAA.
Avoid driving aggressively
As it turns out, speeding and rapid acceleration and braking are not only unsafe, they’re also costly. The energy department says driving sensibly could boost your fuel economy by 10 percent to 40 percent. That adds up to about 28 cents to $1.13 per gallon.
Watch your speed
Did you know that driving slower can help you save money on gas? Each vehicle reaches optimal fuel economy at different speeds, but, generally speaking, according to the energy department, for every 5 miles per hour that you drive over 50 mph, you’ll spend about 20 cents more per gallon for gas. Driving the speed limit could help you save money at the pump to the tune of 7 percent to 14 percent -- or 20 cents to 40 cents per gallon.
Clean out your trunk
The trunk often becomes a mobile junk drawer, storing everything from lawn chairs to tool boxes, umbrellas, golf clubs and more. But don’t store too much stuff in there. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk can impact your fuel economy by about 1 percent. Clean out your trunk and the energy department says you could save money at the pump, as much as 3 cents per gallon.
Is your vehicle on when you’re waiting to pick up your child at carpool? Or when your partner runs into the gas station to grab a drink? It’s better to turn it off.
Idling, according to the energy department, can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour -- depending on how big your vehicle’s engine is and whether you have the air conditioner running. Cutting the engine off will save you between 1 cent and 3 cents of gas per minute.
Don’t haul stuff on your roof
Whether it’s a roof-top carrier or a bike rack, hauling cargo on top of your car, according to the energy department, adds to the “aerodynamic drag” or wind resistance of it -- and forces your vehicle to use more gas.
That roof-top cargo can cut fuel economy between 2 percent and 25 percent, depending on whether you’re driving in the city or on the highway or interstate. A rear-mount cargo box or tray is a better option and lessens fuel economy by just 1 percent to 5 percent, the energy department says.
Don’t rely on your car so much
According to AAA, by eliminating 22 miles of driving each week, you’ll save a gallon of gas. So, think about opportunities to cut down on your driving time. Can you walk to work or take the bus? Could you buy that toothpaste online and save yourself a trip to the store? Instead of dinner out, could you order in one night?
If you are trying to save money at the pump, small changes -- shaving off 5 mph from your average speed, cleaning out the trunk and turning off the car when you’re parked -- can add up to big savings over the long-term.
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