First, the bad news: Already high gas prices aren’t dropping anytime soon. According to AAA’s predictions, summer gas prices should remain between $3.55 and $3.70 per gallon. (Last summer’s range, by comparison, was a few cents cheaper at $3.47 – $3.67.) Drivers in Alaska, Hawaii, and California have been shelling out more than $4 per gallon at the pump for weeks now. Ouch.
The good news: While you may not be able to do anything about those numbers, there are ways you can #hack your gas consumption, leaving you with more cheddar for your summertime Fireworks Fund. Or that kiddie pool, or your Bomb Pop addiction. We spoke with Simon Tam, with the Oregon Environmental Council, and he gave us 11 great ways to keep the gas monster at bay.
11 Genius Gas-Saving Tips to Slash Your Bill at the Pump
- Planning on idling your car for more than about 20 seconds? That means you’re wasting gas, Tam says. “After about 20 seconds, your car begins consuming more fuel than it saves from starting up again.”
- Go with the flow! (Aka don’t stop and start like a crazy person.) “Jack-rabbit starts and abrupt stops increase both fuel use and emissions,” Tam says. “Try to manage your lane changes so that you avoid slowing down and speeding up. Anticipate traffic stops. Use cruise control when you can.”
- Stop speeding, you lead foot. Driving at 65 mph instead of 75 mph should increase your fuel economy by about 10 percent.
- Ask your boss for a summertime schedule—(in at seven, out at four and straight to the pool?)—or find
a happy hoursome other way to avoid driving in rush hour. “Stop-and-go driving burns more gasoline,” Tam explains, “which is a great reason to use public transportation or alternative means for getting to and from work!” (Super secret bonus tip from Zebra agent Jacob Unger: Using your car for pleasure purposes only, as opposed to getting to and from work, also brings your car insurance rates down!)
- When you do fuel up, check the air pressure in your tires. “Often, your tires won’t appear to be low until they are at half the recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires wear out faster and waste gas. The ideal time to check pressure is before you drive more than a few miles; warm tires give a less accurate pressure measurement.”
- And speaking of your tires, check your alignment too. Tam’s tips: “Look at the tread on your tires. If the wheel alignment is poor, they’ll show uneven wear across the tread. Poor alignment wastes gas and can make your car harder to handle in an emergency. Ask your mechanic to realign your tires if they’re off kilter.”
- Rotate your tires a little more frequently. “Consider rotating your tires when you get an oil change (about every 5,000 miles). Moving the tires front-to-back and/or side-to-side will keep the tread wear even. Your car will handle well, you’ll save gas, and your tires will last longer.” That sounds like an #allidoiswin to us!
- Surrender in the Great Parking War. “Drivers typically spend 3-8 minutes cruising for parking. Take the first space you find, and you’ll save gas and avoid aggravation.”
- Combine errands. “One car trip for several tasks leaves more time for fun,” Tam says. His extra-credit hint? Bring a backpack along. If you can walk to the grocery from the laundromat, you’ll cut car time even more.
- Just chill out, summertime driver. “Aggressive highway driving can lower fuel efficiency 33 percent. Your car works well at 60 mph; for every 5 mph you drive over that limit, it’s like paying $0.24 more per gallon of gas.“
- Finally, lighten the load on your old friend. “For every extra 100 pounds you carry in the car, you use 2 percent more gas. Loads and racks on the car roof can add another 3 percent burden to your gas budget from aerodynamic drag.”