The national average for gas is approaching $4 per gallon. Despite a recent reduction in the price of oil, prices are still expected to rise this summer. Last month Sure-Start News shared information that debunked five myths on improving fuel economy. This month we are looking at five money-saving tips that were recently offered by the CEO of a gas company.
Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas Co., provided a list to Nasdaq.com of some of the tips he provides to consumers. They included:
1. Download a gas app: Faulkner suggests consumers with a smart phone can download a gas app right to their mobile device. Apps such as “GasBuddy” provide driving distances, directions and updated gas prices for nearby gas stations, allowing travelers to compare prices without driving around looking for the pump. Those without a smart phone can still utilize the popular app by visiting GasBuddy.com or mapquest.com and checking prices online.
This can help travelers avoid “highway robbery,” as Faulkner claims gas stations near the highway charge 10 cents to 15 cents a gallon more.
2. Discount Programs: Many stores, such as Safeway, offer discounts on gas with minimum store purchases. Other discount programs are available through websites like Plastic Jungle and Gift Card Granny. Gift cards for popular gas stations (Shell, for example) are sold for less than face value.
Supplies are often limited, but e-mail alerts are often available, allowing cost-conscious consumers to be at the front of the queue.
3. Fuel-saving driving habits: A vehicle’s gas mileage can increase by up to 5% by avoiding extreme driving. Quick starts can use more fuel than moderate acceleration, particularly in town. Faulkner points out that by anticipating stops and letting off of the accelerator prior to braking will help reduce gas use. Most vehicles also begin to see gas economy decrease as they reach speeds above 55 MPH.
4. Appropriate Loads. A vehicle’s fuel economy can drop by 1 mile per gallon for every 200-250 pounds of cargo. While it may not be advisable to leave your spouse home to save a little gas, Faulkner suggests emptying unnecessary cargo will help save gas.
5. Combine errands: As simple as it sounds, planning out your needs ahead of time can save you money vs. making a few extra trips a week. At $4.00 per gallon, eliminating two trips per week can save over $200 a year (average trip of 10 miles for a vehicle that gets 20 MPG in town).
Keep car windows closed on the highway: According to Consumer Reports and GasBuddy.com, open windows aren’t an issue around town, and can help with fuel costs vs. air conditioning. However, they create drag at speeds above 45 MPH. GasBuddy points out that at freeway speeds, open windows can decrease fuel economy by 10% or more, while an air conditioner typically reduces gas usage by 5%.
Proper Tire Inflation: Faulkner stated he used this tip with his mother’s car. Her fuel economy increased by 7% with proper tire inflation. Edmonds.com revealed that over-inflating tires will save a marginal amount of gas, but the increased wear on tires will cost more than any potential gas savings.
Use the appropriate grade of gas: A vehicle owners’ manual will list the appropriate octane level/fuel grade for the car. According to the Federal Trade Commission, “in most cases, using a higher octane gasoline than your owner’s manual recommends offers absolutely no benefit. It won’t make your car perform better, go faster, get better mileage or run cleaner. Your best bet: listen to your owner’s manual.”