Energime University | Helpful Strategies to Improve Your Fuel Efficiency
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Helpful Strategies to Improve Your Fuel Efficiency

Will you please stop complaining about the high cost of gasoline? If you buy drinking water in those small $1.59 retail bottles at the gas station, gas is still cheaper than water. 🙂

The problem is not the cost of fuel, but how you use it. Our fuel mileage calculator may be a wake-up call for energy waste in your life, but nothing will change until you change your mindset.

Trading up to a more environmentally friendly car is a step in the right direction, but take one step back if you’re too lazy to get on your knees to check the pressure in your tires. Next, take two steps back if you drive to the supermarket eight times a week because you have no formal grocery shopping list. Finally, take three steps back if you think “within walking distance” means your kitchen.

There are many ways to use our fossil fuels more efficiently, but the best gas-saving device in existence is not under your hood but between your ears – the human brain.

Drive Sensibly

This is a perfect example of changing your mindset. Speeding, rapid stops and starts, and aggressive driving can cost you about $2 per gallon in wasted gas. At highway speeds, aggressive driving lowers your gas mileage by 35 percent; at city speeds you lose about 5 percent.

Why are you driving like cowboy? Driving with a lead foot is the equivalent of spending an extra $.24 per gallon in waste. We don’t need to remind you that observing the speed limit and staying in your own lane are also a lot safer for everyone on the road. And that includes you.

Don’t Strap Anything to the Roof

Hauling stuff on your roof increases your wind resistance and can cost more than a buck a gallon on the highway. Instead, invest in a rear-mounted cargo box or container. This will hardly affect your miles-per-gallon (MPG) rating. Or, you get could just get rid of all that junk.

Remove Extra Weight

Try getting rid of the things you don’t really need knocking around in your car or trunk. You could certainly make do without the box of distressed bricks your brother convinced you to salvage, and the same is true of the bowling ball you won’t be using in the foreseeable future.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: take stock of the junk in the trunk, and then remove anything you won’t need in the next 30 days (excepting emergency equipment and supplies).

Fuel-Efficient Driving Habits

  • Avoid Excessive Idling. Letting your car idle instead of turning off your engine can use up a half gallon of gas, even more if the A/C is in use. Turn off your vehicle whenever it is parked.
  • Cruise Control.  When you’re cruising on the highway, cruise control will also mean fuel control because maintaining a constant speed saves gas.
  • Overdrive Gears. With overdrive gears, the internal speed of your engine slows down, saving you gas to the tune of about 10 – 15 percent.

Needless to say, all the above tips for fuel economy will also reduce wear and tear on the engine.

Keep Your Vehicle In Tip-Top Shape

The smoother your engine runs, the less gas it consumes. Even a minor tune-up can improve your gas mileage by 4 percent, and a major maintenance repair can make your engine up to 40 percent more fuel efficient.

  • Tire Inflation. By keeping your tires properly inflated, you can improve your gas mileage by almost 4 percent. Every 1 psi decrease in pressure amounts to a 0.3 percent drop in fuel efficiency. And avoid filling your tires to the manufacturer’s suggested maximum pressure. Instead, stay just below that recommendation.
  • Motor Oil. Just by using the exact grade of motor oil recommended by a car’s manufacturer, you can conserve energy. If you use 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed for 5W-30 oil, you will lose about 2 percent of your MPG rating. There are many brands of motor oil that are certified as “Energy Conserving” because they contain friction-reducing additives.

Combining Trips

This one is so easy and so efficient that it saves you time, money, and engine wear. Combine your errands into one trip, and you’ll avoid a bunch of cold-start trips. It’s much easier on your vehicle to make another stop on the way while the engine is warm than to make a separate trip later, and it’s much easier on your wallet, too.

If you’re heading to the east side of town, try calling the dry cleaners to see if you can pick up your clothes a few hours early, instead of making a separate trip. Every time you use the car for an errand, you’re adding wear and tear to the mechanical parts, as well as using up valuable gas and oil.

Commuting and Carpooling

As you know, rush hour traffic is murder on your vehicle, with all the frequent stops, heavy idling, and slowpoke conditions. If you can, avoid being on the road during peak traffic times.

Always drive your most gas-conserving vehicle on daily commutes, and you should ask your boss if you can work from home (telecommute) for one or two days a week.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with carpooling and ride-share programs that can cut your weekly fuel costs in half. You’ll also have access to the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes which cut commuting times considerably.

Take Advantage of Public Transportation

Some people wouldn’t be caught dead on a city bus or subway car. These are people who haven’t used public transportation in a long while. They don’t realize that commuting by bus and subway is a far cry from the sardine-packed misadventures of the last millennium.

Buses and subway cars are comfortable, bright, and roomy. Here are a few advantages of riding the bus and subway that have nothing to do with saving money:

  • Public Transit Users Get More Exercise. By walking to and from bus stops, people who use public transit get three times more exercise than drivers. You haven’t had a real cardiovascular workout until you’ve run to catch a bus.
  • Buses Are Safer Than Cars. Travelling by car makes you 20 times more likely to die in a crash than a bus rider. Enough said.
  • Cleaner Air. Did you know that air pollution kills as many people every year as traffic accidents? Thankfully, newer diesel and natural gas-powered buses produce much less pollution per passenger mile than private vehicles.

Trade In Your Gas Guzzler

Remember how we established that the most energy-efficient tool in your arsenal is your brain? Use it to choose the most fuel efficient vehicle you can find on the car lot that still tickles your fancy. You’ll feel the savings immediately.

A car that gets 30 MPG will save you $865 a year over a car that gets only 20 MPG. In five years, you will have saved over $4,000 by switching to a more environmentally friendly car.

Use our convenient gas mileage efficiency calculator to see for yourself how much money you could save by being more energy-conscious.