In recent weeks, drivers have begun to see an annual rite of spring & summer – higher gas prices. According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average national price for a gallon of gasoline is now $3.69, a 16-cent increase from just a month ago. The hardest-hit states are Hawaii and California, where the average cost per gallon of regular gasoline exceeds $4.00.
Consumer Energy Alliance estimates gas prices will increase about 5 percent or around 15 cents a gallon this spring leading into the summer driving season. Much of this price increase is due to annual fuel changes required by the U.S. government. To meet this hit on the pocketbook, consumers can conserve fuel and money by following these tips:
- Drive sensibly – Observe the speed limit, eliminate aggressive acceleration and braking, reduce the time that you idle your vehicle, and plan ahead to avoid unnecessary traffic congestion.
- Keep your car in good repair – Tune-ups, oil changes, and filter replacement will help you get more miles for each gallon of gas.
- Check your tires – Low tire pressure can significantly impact fuel economy. Government website SaferCar.gov recommends that drivers check their tire pressure at least once per month.
- Use the Right Grade of Gasoline / Don’t Top Off - Most cars run fine on regular. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out what’s right for your car. Don’t “top off” at the pump and make sure your fuel fill cap is on tight and working right.
- Use Cruise Control - Maintaining a constant speed over long distances often saves gas.
- Reduce Air Conditioner Use / Close Windows - Using your car’s air conditioner increases fuel cost from 13% up to 21%. If it’s cool enough, use the flow-through ventilation instead of rolling down the windows or using the AC.
- Reduce excessive weight stored in and on your vehicle – Those golf clubs in your trunk could be costing you a few extra dollars each trip to the pump. Immediately remove items from roof rack once you reached your destination.
- Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle – When it’s time to trade up for a new vehicle, look into choosing a vehicle that is certified with the best miles-per-gallon rating in order to maximize your fuel efficiency.
- Choose vehicles according to your need – For example, if you mostly drive in cities, a smaller hybrid might be right for you because they get better mileage for city driving and are easier to park. If you need a vehicle for towing or heavy use, consider a clean diesel vehicle. Diesel engines are quieter, more powerful, and 30%-35% more efficient than similar-sized gasoline engines.
- Look into telecommuting, carpooling, and public transit options in your area - Many urban areas provide carpool lanes that are usually less congested, which means you will get to work and home faster. By carpooling or taking public transit, you also help save energy.
Sources: fueleconomy.gov, energy.gov, consumerenergycenter.org, energysavingtrust.org, gasbuddy.com