The High cost of Fuel: 23 Useful Gas Saving Tips
Wow…the average price of gas in the U.S. is currently $3.77! Right now the state with the lowest average price of gas is Wyoming at $3.20, while on the other hand Hawaii comes in at $4.32 – what a drastic difference! Update: In July of 2022, the average gas price is a whopping $4.65! California averages just over 6 bucks! Fortunately, there are ways to save on gas expenses to take down the costs a bit!
Keep in mind that gas prices can vary in your own town too, sometimes by as much as 20-30 cents per gallon. Luckily I drive a Prius which gets over 50 mpg or I would be in trouble. I love Gas Buddy – you can type in your zip code and find the cheapest and most expensive stations in your town. You can also find state and city averages as well as use a trip cost calculator, which estimates total trip fuel costs and lists stations to stop at along your route to save money. Check out my tips below which will help you improve your fuel economy!
*Use cruise control. Using the cruise control option will keep you from changing your speed, which wastes gas. Keeping your speed at the same level without slowing or speeding up will make your gas last longer. In addition, it also gives your feet on those long drives.
*Keep tires filled properly. Having flat tires will negatively affect your gas mileage. Maintaining the proper level of air in your tires will ensure that you are getting the best mileage possible. Check your air pressure frequently; I keep a small mini pump in the car. This saves me the money and frustration of finding a gas station with an air pump. Tip: Discount Tires offers a free air check.
*Keep windows rolled up. You get much better gas mileage when your windows are rolled up, especially while driving on the highway or when it is windy out. If you have a convertible, it is more cost efficient to keep the top up (not to mention healthier for your skin!).
*Put the cap back in place after getting gas. I always see people on the road that have forgotten to place the cap back on and it bothers me because it wastes gas! Always check before driving away from the station.
*Pay in cash. Some stations will give you a discount if you pay in cash instead of by credit card. It is less convenient than swiping your card outside, but may be worth the extra effort if you have a long trip and need a full tank of gas.
*Consider purchasing a hybrid for your next vehicle. Hybrids are more efficient than other types of vehicles. Most are also surprisingly attractive and affordable. I bought a Prius Plug In this year and am very pleased with the vehicle. Right now Toyota is offering several rebates on Prius models, in addition to a large tax rebate. The plug in model gets about 50-60mpg, and also 10-15 miles running in electric only mode, when you drive on a full charge (about 3 hours).
*Try to plan weekly shopping and errands all in the same day. I try to arrange most of my errands on the same day or group together stores and tasks that are around the same area. This plan will prevent you from running around multiple stores and wasting unnecessary gas and time.
*Take a longer country route over driving in the city. The stop and go traffic in the city kills your gas mileage. Not to mention the extra frustration and time you waste sitting idle in your car. Your car gets much better mileage outside of the city. You may end of saving yourself time by taking the “longer” route as opposed to sitting backed up in traffic.
*Don’t leave your car running while waiting for someone. It seems like it would be cheaper to keep your car running over turning it off and starting it back up again. However, it does not take up that much gas. Turn it off if you will be waiting longer than a few minutes.
*Avoid driving during rush hour, if possible. Driving during rush hour is a hassle which costs you both extra time and money. I use to drive into work an hour early to use the gym. At this time, there was no one else using the gym, and I avoided the morning rush hour traffic completely. You will save yourself money and frustration by avoiding peak rush hour times.
*Keep your trunk empty. It may not seem like a big deal, but any extra weight in your trunk will reduce your gas mileage. Keep your trunk light to maximize gas mileage. Remember to bring in any bulky purchases right away when you get home to keep your trunk from piling up.
*Don’t get gas right off the highway. Gas stations located right off the highway tend to be much pricier than those found in town. A good idea is to fill up your tank all the way before leaving so you don’t need to stop. If you are going on a really long trip and need to make frequent fill ups, then I recommend driving a bit further into town to find cheaper gas (but don’t go too far out of your way).
*Use a GPS. A GPS will tell you the estimated cost of getting to a particular location, and you can also set it up to give you the lowest cost route. Plus, using this device means fewer chances for getting lost, which translates into lower gas costs. Just make sure to update your maps each year so you don’t waste time driving to stores and restaurants that no longer exist.
*Drive slower. You will save gas by driving slower. You lose money every mile that you go above 65MPH. With the gas prices as high as they are today, I would rather take my time getting somewhere and in return save on the gas. Getting somewhere a few minutes earlier is not worth the increased fuel cost or risk to your safety.
*Take more staycations. Staycations are much cheaper in comparison to vacations where you have to drive a far distance. Not only will you save on traveling costs, you will also save on lodging and hotels. Planning a day trip to cultural attractions in your area makes for a great budget-friendly vacation.
*Replace the air filter as needed. Make sure to do it yourself instead of paying a mechanic for this easy task. Air filter replacements can be purchased at any auto store. If you don’t know how to replace either ask a friend or family member for help or check an online how-to video.
*Carpool to work and split the cost. Carpooling is a good option to save on gas expenses, especially if you commute into the city. Some cities, such as Los Angeles have special HOV (High occupancy vehicle) lanes, which can only be used by people driving with at least one other person in the car. Another benefit of purchasing a Prius is receiving a special sticker to drive in the HOV lanes even if you are driving alone.
*Be prepared for different terrains. Driving through areas of certain topography requires more gas than others. For example, going up a lot of hills is a major gas eater. Take an alternate route if possible. If not, plan ahead for the extra cost of gas so you are prepared.
*Use the air conditioner sparingly. I recommend only turning on the air conditioner on really hot days. Try to park your car in a shaded area; you will be less tempted to turn on the air if the car has been sitting out of the hot sun.
*Do most of your grocery shopping one day per month. Stocking up on your canned and boxed grocery items will save you the extra trips and associated gas mileage. A few years ago I lived on an island and could only get to a grocery store once a month. I learned how to stock up and buy items in bulk. In addition to the gas savings, it was also nice having extra quantities of product available for immediate use.
*Don’t use premium gas. This is usually an unnecessary expense. The majority of cars run just fine on regular gas. There is a pretty big price difference between the different types of gas. Only purchase premium gas if your owner’s manual requires it (the case for some luxury vehicles).
*Avoid the unnecessary use of your brakes. Hitting on your brakes all the time reduces your fuel efficiency. Try to plan your driving routes around as few stoplights as possible. This will allow you to get better gas mileage.
*Use public transportation instead of driving your car. Public transportation is cheaper than driving your own car. You are saving not only gas, but also mileage on your vehicle. You also pay one price no matter how many stoplights and other factors reduce your gas efficiency. Make sure to check and see if any discounted fares or monthly passes are available. Monthly passes are great for those of you who work in the city and will be taking public transit every day.
Also be sure to check out my budget friendly travel guide with the best tips and tricks for saving on vacation trip costs!
What are your best tips for saving on fuel expenses?