You’ve probably seen lots of tips on how to save energy in your home. A simple Google search will bring back thousands of hits. But learning how to save energy on the road can be just as important. If you drive regularly or over long distances your fuel costs could rise the same as any electricity bill, straining your wallet. Fortunately, there are some simple, free things you can do to improve your driving habits and save money at the pump.
One of the best ways to save a little cash at the pump is to ease up on your accelerator. The slower you go, the less gas you use. Fuel efficiency declines rapidly at speeds beyond 50 mph. In fact, you will pay an additional $0.25 per gallon for each 5 mph you exceed 50 mph. By keeping your speeding to a minimum you could potentially save up to $0.51 per gallon*, or $10.20 for every 20-gallon tank you fill!
Inflate your tires
Make certain your tires are always inflated to manufacturer recommendations. By filling your tires with the proper pressure, you could gain 3.3 percent back in fuel efficiency. However, for every 1 psi the tire is underinflated, your miles per gallon will drop 0.3 percent. You can easily find the appropriate tire pressure by checking your owner’s manual. Or, most cars have a sticker on the driver’s side doors with the same information. If regularly maintained, you could save up to $0.11 per gallon each time you fill up, or an equivalent of $2.20.
Relax and enjoy the ride
Agitation can have a shocking effect on your fuel economy, because it causes you to drive aggressively. Quick acceleration, hard breaking and excessive speeding can lower your miles per gallon and cost you at the pump. Fuel economy is especially bad in frustrating stop-and-go traffic situations. However, by relaxing while driving and making a conscious effort to improve your gas mileage you could see a 33 percent increase in your fuel tank. In fact, driving sensibly could save you up to a whopping $1.19 per gallon, or $23.80 for a full tank.
Eliminate extra weight
Keeping your car full of stuff is a bad habit to have. Anything that is not essential should be removed from your vehicle to optimize fuel efficiency. (But remember to keep the spare tire!) According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every 100 pounds of added weight in your car, you lose 2 percent fuel economy. By getting rid of clutter in your car, you could save up to $0.07 per gallon, or $1.40 each time you fill up.
Beware of products that promise results
As gas prices have risen dramatically over the past decade, a number of companies have come forward with products promising gas savings. The EPA tests most of the merchandise touted as energy-saving in the auto industry. As of June 2013, it has not found any of these products to significantly improve gas mileage. In fact, there are even a few products that have had negative effects on vehicles. Be skeptical of any product that guarantees better gas mileage. The best way to ensure your car is operating at maximum efficiency is to follow the tips above.
*All savings listed in this post are estimates found at fueleconomy.gov and are based on the cost of fuel at $3.61 and a 20-gallon tank.