By Deidre Ortiz
Gas prices are continuing to skyrocket to unimaginable heights, which makes investing in a new bicycle and walking, look like the best ways to save a buck. Human energy is certainly cheaper and healthier for us and the environment, but for people living in the fast lane, these options won’t cut it with the long distances, and the commute to and from work—especially when bicycles and work attire aren’t exactly friends. Luckily, there are other ways to conquer this money-hungry beast while continuing to stay comfortably behind the wheel.
First, make sure that your car is running correctly. Just fixing a minor maintenance problem on your vehicle increases gas mileage by four percent and taking care of a serious problem can raise it up to 40 percent. Secondly, planning and combining trips helps save gas, meaning you should make all the trips you need to while your out, and try to get everything you need from around one place if you can. Doing this will save you both time and money. An even easier option is keeping unnecessary objects out of your trunk. An extra 100 pounds can reduce your miles per gallon by as much as two percent
When commuting, it helps to leave before the peak traffic hours to prevent you from spending a lot of time idling on the highway. If you have more than one vehicle, it’s also better to drive the most fuel efficient one. The same goes for traveling. Instead of taking a bigger car, a roof rack is an efficient way to bring everything you need. And while not driving a huge gas-guzzling vehicle is the most obvious, the most effective way to save money on gas, no matter what car you drive, is by going slower.
These days everyone’s in a hurry trying to get home as soon as possible after a long day, but driving slower is both safer and cheaper. Instead if driving aggressively, try using cruise control, because driving crazy doesn’t usually get you anywhere any faster, and when you constantly accelerate and brake, you use more gas. Plus, what’s the point in trying to get home a little earlier, if the consequences could mean a ticket or an accident? Driving slower also means slowing faster, whether you are going 70 mph or 60 mph makes a big difference when you suddenly need to slow down or stop when on the highway.
Besides, many research studies show that for every 5 mph over 60 mph, you start to get less gas mileage which ultimately ends up being the same as spending about 20 cents more per gallon, the exact amount depending upon the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. The reason your car consumes more gas with increasing speed is because it takes more energy for your car to go faster. For example, when driving on the highway, air is being pushed at and around your car, taking up at least 40% of the car’s energy. With each increase in speed, the air pressure at the front and back of your car increases and as the car needs more energy, it uses more fuel.
One would think a larger vehicle would be subject to more air pressure than a smaller one, but in fact, larger engines help counteract this energy and doesn’t add weight to the car. So, even if the weight of a larger car will cost you more gas overall, when driving slower all cars get the same increase in mileage and the same savings of price per gallon.
Next time you’re speeding down the interstate, remember that by going 10 mph slower, you could get 4 more miles to the gallon than you normally would at the faster rate. This shows that it does pay to drive the posted speed limit, and though the few extra miles may not seem worth it to you, your pocket book will think differently.