The Oregon Department of Energy released 14 ways to save gas. Let’s review the list and see how be organized helps to reduce the gas you use.
How to get the most from every fill up.
Three factors affect your gas mileage: 1) How fast you drive; 2) What your driving habits are; and 3) How you maintain your vehicle. See if you can apply these ideas, even on a small scale. Every little bit helps!
GO! You will see a common theme to the GO! Advice: You need plan ahead and concentrate on driving to save gas.
1. Is your trip necessary: Could it be postponed and combined with others to nearby destinations? Map out your route to get the most done with the shortest route.
GO! Keep a list of things you need in an easily accessed location like on the fridge at home or posted in your office at work. The exterior of tall metal filing cabinets can be a good place to post your list, you just need a magnet. When its time to run errands, grab the list and plan your route. Plan a loop so you end up at your final destination and do not back track.
GO! Errands on the fly? No problem, just take the time to make a list mentally or on paper of where you need to go in the order of locations, then drive.
GO! Do you really need it today? One thing reminds us of another which can lead to driving in circles. Maybe that errand or purchase can wait until another day when it’s on the way. Just make a note to add it to the next errand list.
2. For each trip consider alternatives, such as carpooling or public transportation, walking or riding a bicycle. Using an alternative commute only one day a week reduces your commute by 20%. Try a new option for easy trips first to see how it goes.
GO! Alternate transport takes planning. Before you decide to bike or ride make sure you have a map of the bike trails or a public transport map and schedule.
GO! If you plan to carpool make sure you have contact information for each participant. In our world of email it can be easy to forget to get a phone number.
10 Tips For Successful Carpooling from Arlington, VA County Department of Environmental Services.
3. Ask your employer to consider flexible work options. If the majority of your work can be done on a computer, ask about teleworking one day a week. Or, if you could work four 10-hour days, that’s one less day each week you drive.
GO! You have to be diligent to work from home, especially if your housemates are home during the day. Before you ask to telecommute, make a list of what you will do to ensure you put in a full day of work. How you will stay in touch with coworkers? How will your work be protected off site? Will telecommuting help the company? Fewer cars in the parking lot? Creating an eco-friendly reputation? Reduction in facilities/utility usage?
4. Maintain your car for top fuel efficiency. Dirty air filters, old spark plugs and low fluid levels can impact fuel economy.
GO! Do you have your next oil change on ‘the schedule’? How about your next tire rotation? Keeping your vehicle in good working order means blocking out time to do or have maintenance done before it needs to be done.
5. Check your tire pressure at least once a month. It’s the easiest way to improve your gas mileage by 2 to 3%. You can’t tell the difference between a properly inflated tire and one that’s under-inflated by 30% – or 10 pounds.
GO! An easy item to add to your calendar as a reoccurring event.
6. Obey the speed limit. Every extra mile driven over 55 mph costs about 1% in fuel economy. As the speed increases, wind resistance on the car increases exponentially.
GO! Why do we speed? Running late will be the reply from most. Make sure you leave enough time for those unexpected events: a meeting runs late, you spill tea on your shirt and have to change, or you get an important call from family. Plan for 10-15 minutes of unexpected tasks and if none occur, enjoy 10 minutes of free time in the morning or between meetings.
7. Use cruise control on the highway. Maintaining a constant speed over long distances can save gas.
GO! This works when you are not running late and speeding. Trust me; you can reduce your stress substantially by setting your cruise control and flowing with traffic. Fighting against traffic by constantly changing lanes, passing, and frequently changing your speed does not save you much time if you do the math.
8. In city driving, don’t race ahead just to wait at the next stoplight. Anticipating traffic and applying slow stead acceleration and braking may increase fuel economy by as much as 20%.
GO! My mom always said, coast to the stop light, you never know when your brakes might fail (Thanks Mom!). Accelerating to a red light is like making a dead run for your front door each night, knowing you will need to stop to unlock it. This means you need to be concentrating on driving and not thinking about all the things you need to do. Get those ‘to do’ lists out of your head and onto a list.
9. Warm up your engine by driving. Start off within 30 seconds (or when windows are defrosted). Idling your car for a longer period of time doesn’t make the engine last longer and wastes gas. It is best, however, to not accelerate hard or drive at high speeds until you’ve driven a few miles.
GO! Coming from Wisconsin, I get a good giggle when I see my neighbors idling their vehicles for half an hour during our Willamette winter since I think of cold as -34 degrees F and not 34 degrees F.
GO! Idle for 30 seconds or until your vehicle is defrosted then take it slow. So what about defrosting? Test your car to see how long it takes to defrost that first cold morning. If you do not stay in the car check it through the window every few minutes. Make note of the time it really takes to defrost the windows (under 5 minutes I would expect) then incorporate that amount of time into your morning schedule.
10. Turn your engine off if you have to wait. Ten seconds of idling uses more gas than restarting the engine and an idling engine pollutes more than driving 30 mph. Consider parking and going inside rather than waiting in a long line for drive-through service.
GO! This makes the air at the drive-thru much more pleasant! Again, this means you need to be concentrating on driving and not thinking about all the things you need to do. Corvallis only has 50k people. In some lines, I turn my car off and don’t move up as cars pull ahead since there is no one behind me. Another great place to use this gas saving strategy is at railroad crossings. I turn my car off but make sure my break lights are a-glow until the next person stops behind me.
11. Roof racks, ski racks and car top boxes all hurt your gas mileage by 2 to 3 mpg. Remove these items when they are not being used.
GO! Part of planning a vacation or sports season is planning the finally. Cleaning and storing the gear, cleaning out the car AND removing the racks.
12. Don’t store heavy things in your vehicle. In the spring, remember to remove bricks and sand bags used for winter traction.
GO! Ensure this is at the top of the spring to do list. Don’t buy a heavy item until you know you have a way to unload it and place to put it when you reach your destination.
13. Turn off the air conditioner and defroster when not needed. They put an extra load on the engine, using more fuel. Use the Ventilation or Economy setting to bring in fresh air.
GO! This means you need to be concentrating on driving when you are in the car.
14. Keep windows closed, especially at highway speeds. Open windows decrease fuel economy by as much as 10%.
Of course, the best way to save gas is to buy a fuel-efficient car. Small vehicles with manual transmission usually provide the best fuel economy. Consider a hybrid car, especially if you regularly commute. Oregon residents can qualify for a Residential Energy Tax Credit if they purchase a new hybrid vehicle.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Energy’s transportation programs and incentives visit their web site: www.oregon.gov/energy
Source: Oregon Department of Energy