No, you don’t have to ride a bike (although that will save you a ton of gas) or walk (that will also save you a ton of gas and get a good cardio workout – an added bonus!) or buy a Prius (expensive initial investment but future savings AND it IS the car of choice if you want to be green).
Follow these simple rules by Planet Green while driving and save gas. (and think of ways to spend all that money you will save…like buying DVD’s on how to change spark plugs on your car. More on that later.)
- Like Simon and Garfunkel says, “Slow down, you’re moving too fast…”: Don’t be a speed demon. Sorry. It’s simple, really. For every five miles per hour you drive above 55 mph, you lose 10% fuel efficiency, so keep your speed down when you can. And avoiding speeding tickets will definitely save you money too.
- Don’t idle: I know it’s going to get cold pretty soon (or may be it stays hot all year around in some places) but read my previous post on idling and shut off your engine if you are going to wait for more than a minute. Fuel efficiency savings of up to 19% are possible by being more aware of not letting your engine idle while stopped. And you are reducing air pollution too.
- Stop drag racing: Do you take off from red lights or stop signs like you’re drag racing, then hit the brakes at the next one? Accelerating less aggressively and slowing down moderately for stops can increase your fuel efficiency by over 30%.
- Slow and steady wins the race: Many traffic lights are timed for efficient traffic flow, and by maintaining a constant speed, you’ll hit more green lights in a row. I confess; I play a game of how many lights I can hit without stopping on certain streets. It’s fun that way (I know, I should get a life.) and it actually makes me ‘get there’ faster if I don’t have to stop at a light even if it means going slower in between lights. Does that make sense? Good. I’m glad I’m not the only silly one.
- Go on a cruise: Use your cruise control on the highway to maintain a steady speed and keep yourself from accelerating unnecessarily. An average fuel savings of 10% is possible by just cruising. Of course, on rainy or slick roads, cruise control is NOT recommended but in normal road conditions and traffic, cruise control is God sent. Besides, it makes driving so much more enjoyable when you are not concentrating on accelerating and decelerating all the time.
- There’s an app for that: Got an iPhone? Install a fuel saving application like MyMPG that lets you know when you’re wasting gas. Of course, don’t use this app when you are behind the wheel. (Duh…”I know that Karen”, you say, but you know I have to say that disclaimer, just in case. “But officer, Ecokaren says I should check my iPhone to see how much gas I’m saving and I didn’ see the car….” Uh-huh.)
- Streamline your ride: Improving the aerodynamics of your car reduces drag and improves fuel efficiency. Got a roof rack full of gear? Leave it at home and feel the difference. And for Pete’s sake, don’t be lazy. Get that ski rack off the roof in the summer. Unless you are going skiing on Mt. Hood, OR or in Chile in the middle of the summer, you don’t need the ski rack on your car in July.
- Maintain your car: Change your plugs regularly (I told you that DVD will come in handy). Keep your engine tuned up, your filters clean, and fill up the tires with proper air pressure. Empty your car of any extra items you’ve been hauling around for years to lighten your load. These simple maintenance will improve car’s fuel efficiency tremendously.
- Carpools are not just for kids anymore: Drive alone, and you’re making the gasoline industry very happy. Find a carpool for work commutes, and ask your friends and neighbors to combine errand runs with you.
- Gear up: Cars are more fuel efficient in a higher gear, so when you’re up to speed, pick the gear with the lowest engine RPM and you’ll burn the least amount of gas, while reducing the emissions from your tailpipe. If you have an automatic, this might sound like a foreign language but the car will run better in the lowest RPM. How do I know when the engine running in a higher RPM? You hear the engine lagging noise. When I hear that, I adjust my driving so that it changes to the next gear. For you, manual drivers, you know what to do.
So, there you have it – ten simple tips on how to save on gas (and money).
Obviously, it’s preferable to own one, but you don’t have to put your name on the waiting list to buy a Prius in order to save on gas. You can still save gas while driving if you follow these simple rules. Until we can find ways to drive our cars on pure air, oh, there is this car that does use just air, we can at least find ways to save gas by being smart. Green smart.