Gas prices just seem to be getting higher and higher, no matter where you live! Unless you live in an area with great public transportation, you probably can't get away from your car entirely. However, you can reduce the amount of gas you use and even save on the gas that you do buy!
- Don't drive when you can walk or ride a bicycle. This is obvious, but surprisingly uncommon. Americans, especially, are known for wanting to drive everywhere. If you are only going a few blocks, walk! If you're going a little farther, ride your bike! In addition to saving gas, you will help the environment, get some exercise, and have a little bit of time to relax and think instead of fighting traffic. In fact, in many cities, a short distance will take less time if you walk or bike than if you drive.
- Don't drive when you can take public transportation. Again, public transportation is an underused resource in many areas. Taking the bus or subway will not only save you money on gas, but can give you time to read, listen to your iPod, sleep, knit or whatever you want to do.
- Carpool. Many cities have a "casual carpool" or planned carpools near congested freeways. If there isn't a carpool set up near you, plan one. Talk to people you work with and find out who lives near you, or put up a notice on an electronic or physical bulletin board to try to find people who are interested in carpooling.
- Drive a fuel-efficient car. Not all of us can afford hybrids, but you can still use less money than your monstrous SUV-driving neighbor. Look online or in consumer magazines to find out which cars are the most fuel-efficient. This is where bigger is not usually better.
- Properly inflate your tires. Tires that are not properly inflated can cause you to get poor gas mileage. The owner's manual for your car should specify the proper tire pressure for your tires.
- Maintain your car. Timely tune-ups and oil changes increase the amount of miles you will get to a gallon. You may think you are saving money when you put off that oil change, but you'll be making up for it in gasoline. In addition, a dirty air filter can reduce your fuel efficiency.
- Carry less weight. Don't drive around with half of your belongings in your trunk. Extra weight - as well as things like roof racks - increases fuel consumption. Try not to use your car trunk as storage space.
- Don't leave your car running. If your car is going to be idle for more than a minute or two, turn it off. You will use less gas by turning it off and starting it again than by idling for more than two or three minutes. In the same way, don't start your car until you're ready to drive it.
- Drive smoothly. Jackrabbit starts and quick stops use more gas than smooth starts and stops. Driving safely in this case can also save you money (and calm your passengers!).
- Get a gas station credit card. Many large gasoline companies provide discounts when using their credit cards; sometimes as much as 5% off of your gas purchase.
- Buy cheaper gas - if it is near you. Many people try to buy the cheapest gas in town, but use up a gallon or two of gas driving all the way across the city to get there! They are not gaining anything by doing this. If the price is not much difference, choose what is near you. You'll save gas and time getting it.
Although gas prices don't seem to be going down anytime soon, by being smart about your driving and gasoline-buying habits, you don't have to pay a fortune to fill up your tank!