With the current prices for fuel (here it seems to go up every day), I decided to take a closer look at things I could do to increase my fuel economy and try to make a dent in our skyrocketing fuel bills. There is a lot of information out there, and I was floored to find many recommendations that are just completely unrealistic.
For example - sell your home and buy a home closer to where you work. This makes a lot of sense in theory, but considering the current housing market, putting my home up for sale is probably the last thing I want to do right now. Plus, like a lot of people, we bought farther out from the city so we could find a home we could afford. Paying more for less house closer to work doesn't make a lot of sense.
Or just exchange it! Sell your car and get a more efficient car. Most of us are probably going to do that anyway when the time comes to get a new car, but the used car lots are completely filled with SUVs. You're not going to get a lot for that trade-in with supply so high now. We're looking at a Prius, but we are planning on driving our car another year before replacing it, so we'll do it when the time is right - not just to try and save gas now.
Or the biggest no brainer - drive less! Believe me, we are already doing this for personal trips and by combining as many errands as possible. But where we live, public transportation is really inadequate, so it is often impossible to drive less.
I have sought out things that are easy to do and really make a significant difference. Here are my top three:
Slow down! On the freeways where we live, people routinely drive 80 - 85 mph. From the research I have found, each ten miles per hour increase in speed represents a 15% reduction in fuel economy. So let's say you decide to actually drive the speed limit and reduce your speed by 10 mph. At that speed, you won't have to move to the right lane and be hassled with merging and exiting traffic all the time - you can just travel in the middle lanes and comfortably maintain that speed. A quick example of savings can be done with a car getting 25 mpg driven 1000 miles. This distance would consume 40 gallons of fuel. With gas pushing $4.50 a gallon, a 15% savings is $27.00. That $27 equals a free fill-up every 2000 miles. And you can save even more if you drop down to 60-65 (over 30% reduction)! Think about slowing down. You'll be safer, you'll save money, and you will always avoid getting speeding tickets.
Drive Smarter! Hard acceleration and needless braking wastes a lot of gas. Do you need to be the first one to wait at the next light? When driving in the city or in heavy traffic, look ahead and try to anticipate what will be happening farther down the road. Coast to the red light instead of braking. Look ahead when the light you are at changes to green. If the next light will be red, it doesn't make a lot of sense to get up to speed and then apply the brakes to wait again - just coast along at a reasonable speed. Every time you apply the brakes you are wasting fuel because you are negating the energy you just expended to get up to speed. Smarter driving can save between 5-10% or more on your fuel bills.
Be safe, but be smarter!
Junk in the trunk (or on the roof)! This is something that is very easy to do. We have equipment for our business that I store in the trunk of our car. Sometimes it is necessary to use it, but we always know in advance. Removing the unnecessary weight from your trunk saves as much as 2% in fuel economy. We store it in the garage until we need it. It is summertime now - how many beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, or other fun-in-the-sun items live in your trunk when you don't need them? Aerodynamics play a big role as well. There is a reason airplanes are shaped the way they are and that current car designs are a lot more curvy and smooth than older models. You negate a lot of that smart design by leaving bike racks, roof racks, or other accessories mounted to your vehicle at times when you won't be using them. This increase drag can account for as much as a 5% reduction in fuel economy.
There are countless other things you can do - I even found an article with 29 suggestions that included mathematical calculations to prove each point! But these three are feasible and you will notice an immediate savings!
J. Penner lives in Southern California and enjoys seeking out simple and easy ways to save money in an ever-changing economy. If you enjoy saving money check out J. Penner's website: http://www.FrugalFreebiesandDeals.com for daily updates on some of the best deals and free stuff.