With gas prices much higher than they were just a few short years ago, many of us have stopped driving as much as we used to. Leaving your vehicle in the driveway is without a doubt the most effective way to avoid high gas prices. But we can’t stay home all the time.
Of course, not driving doesn’t necessarily mean staying at home. You can often ride a bike to your destination. If you live close to school, you could walk the kids there instead of driving them. And in cities, public transportation is cheaper and more economically friendly than driving a vehicle of your own.
When it comes to saving money on gas, the next best thing to avoiding driving is changing your driving habits. The way you drive plays a big role in your vehicle’s fuel consumption, and there are certain things you can do to get more miles out of each gallon.
* Drive at a steady speed. Speeding up and slowing down, even just a little bit, uses more gas than maintaining your speed. Use cruise control when possible, and avoid unnecessary fluctuations in speed when cruise is not an option.
* Avoid stopping at red lights when possible. That doesn’t mean you should run them, just that you should slow down well in advance. By the time you get to the light, it may have turned green, and you won’t have to stop. And accelerating when you’re already rolling uses less gas than accelerating from a dead stop.
* Keep the pedal off the metal. Speeding can be expensive, and not just because you could get a ticket. The optimal speed for fuel efficiency is around 55 MPH. If you drive faster than that, you’re using extra gas to maintain your speed. So stick close to the speed limit.
* Keep your car well maintained. A dirty air filter can seriously impact your fuel efficiency, as can underinflated tires. Perform maintenance as scheduled, and check tire pressure and fluids regularly. You can check your air filter by removing it and holding it up to the sun – if no light comes through, it needs to be changed.
* Avoid using the air conditioner at low speeds. If you’re on the freeway, however, running it may be more economical than rolling the windows down, because it doesn’t create wind resistance.
Not driving is the simplest way to save money on fuel. But when you need to drive, these simple changes to your driving habits can make a noticeable difference in your vehicle’s fuel consumption. An extra mile or two per gallon might not leave you with enough money to go on vacation right away, but over time the savings really add up.