Only a few months ago, I paid $1.87 a gallon for gas in Thornton, Colorado. That’s more than a dollar cheaper than I paid this past week at the same location—$3.05 per gallon! What’s going on?
According to Forbes, the price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil tested the $70 level earlier this month, before closing at $69.62. That may be great news for oil producers around the U.S., but it’s bad for America’s families getting ready to hit the road for summer vacations.
And sadly, I have even worse news for travelers. Given industry predictions and what’s coming out of Washington these days, the price at the pump won’t be going anywhere but up in the foreseeable future.
While there’s precious little any one of us can do about the national economy, we can do something about our personal economies.
To save a gallon of gas, you need to cut about 22 miles of driving. Here are 10 easy ways to do that:
Hop on the Bus, Gus
Even if you assume it’s not an option for you, consider public transportation. Or carpool. Sharing the ride—and expense—with another person regularly can cut your gas costs in half.
Take It Easy
The faster you drive, the more gas you use. If your average commute includes 20 miles of highway time and you drive it at 60 mph instead of 70 mph, it will take you only three minutes longer to get there, and you’ll save approximately 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day workweek.
Save the trips to the store and consider other online services to minimize errands, such as banking, buying stamps, and paying bills. Just make sure that any delivery fees are not wiping out the potential savings in gasoline.
Take a Hike (or Ride a Bike)
Instead of driving everywhere, lace up your sneakers and get some exercise while you save gas. A bicycle can help you rack up car-free miles even faster.
Fill Up on Monday
Or Tuesday. GasBuddy.com, a site that tracks gas prices like none other, says Monday and Tuesday are historically the cheapest days of the week to fill up your tank. And, for sure, never on the weekends!
According to Linda Gaines, Argonne transportation systems analyst:
“You should shut off your engine. Unless you drive a vintage, carburetor-equipped vehicle, you’ll save fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by turning it off. Some drivers think that idling uses less fuel than restarting, but our research has found that drivers save fuel and reduce emissions by shutting down for stops as brief as 10 seconds. That being said, we don’t recommend turning your car on and off in stop-and-go traffic; driving safely means being able to respond quickly to traffic conditions.”
Drive as If Gas Is Being Rationed
The time may come that you will be allowed only a set number of gallons per week no matter the cost, no matter your needs (remember the ’70s, anyone?). Start driving now as if you are on a 10-gallons-per-week limit. The practice will do you good.
The heavier the load your car has to carry, the harder its engine has to work to keep the wheels moving, which means the more gas it guzzles. Don’t use your trunk for long-term storage. Do this: Remove everything from the cargo space or trunk. While it’s empty, clean it out. Return only the items required for safety. Everything else? Find a better storage spot in the garage or house.
Check Those Tires
For the best gas mileage, check the pressure every time you fill up with gas. Keep your tires inflated at the PSI (pounds per square inch) recommended on the sticker on the edge of the door on the driver side of the door—NOT the PSI you see printed on the tire wall, which is the maximum pressure at which the tire will be able to safely support its maximum load rating before bursting. The PSI value listed on the vehicle’s sticker inside the door jamb will achieve the best fuel mileage and tire wear for that specific vehicle—typically lower than what’s printed on the tire wall.
Pay With Cash
Many gasoline stations give a discount for cash payment. It’s their way of avoiding credit and debit card processing fees, also known as merchant fees. It will be a bit less convenient for you to pay the cashier instead of feeding plastic into the pump, but the savings will be so worth it. Plus you’ll add more steps to reach your daily goal.
Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021 Creators.com