I got my license in 2003 and I can remember how excited I was to finally be on the open road without an adult in the car. Nothing could beat the wind whipping through my hair, cruising around in my parents Dodge Caravan complete with wood paneling. I also remember how I thought gas was expensive then. It took 20 dollars to fill up! Back then, gas in Maine was somewhere around $1.50 a gallon. Unfortunately, those days (and that van) are long gone, and in today's day in age, gas is much more expensive. Filling up the tank can set you back mucho dinero depending on the vehicle. While gas prices seem to have come down a little for the time being, it still costs a good 40-50 dollars to fill up most cars. If you're someone who drives a lot, that's a substantial chunk of change going into your tank each week. In a perfect world, cars would get 100 miles to the gallon and gas would be really cheap (and you'd get free ice cream with each fill up...just saying). While I don't see that happening anytime in the near future, there are some easy and economical ways to ensure you are getting the most out of your tank of gas. How do you do that, you might ask? Well, here are a few tips to try.
Ride Your Bike to Work/Carpool
I have a friend, Rob, who lives and works in Bangor. He hasn't used a car for about three years now. He has his license, but he decided that riding his bike would not only be more healthy, but it would remove the need to buy gas for a car. It saves him a considerable amount of money each year. If you work near where you live, consider taking a bike on nice days. Even if you biked once a week, it would cut down on the amount of gas you use. Nothing saves gas more than not using it. In the wintertime, Rob often times carpools to work. Find coworkers who live close by, or meet up at a park and ride and split the cost of gas. Not only does it save money, it also saves wear and tear on everyone's car if you take turns driving.
Leave Early for Your Destination
You may be looking at this one and asking yourself what leaving early has to do with saving gas. Well, if you leave early for your desired location, you won't have to speed to get there. I am a repeat offender of leaving my house at the last moment possible, only to drive faster to get to my ending spot on time. Did you know that your car gets the best gas mileage when you travel at 55 miles per hour? Any time you increase your speed beyond 55, you lose gas efficiency and therefore lose valuable MPGs. Leaving early will do two things. It will allow you to drive slower, which means better gas mileage. It will also ensure that you can drive closer to the speed limit and evade any speeding fines along the way. Nothing kills the budget quite like a traffic violation.
Drive at a Consistent Speed
When I was younger, my friend's dad (who shall remain nameless) used to drive us around occasionally when we needed to get places. He could never keep a consistent speed. He'd gun the gas and then coast down the road, and then gun it again and coast again. Not only did it make me carsick, it also cut down on his fuel efficiency considerably. Driving at a consistent speed ensures that your engine is getting a steady amount of gas. Have a hard time keeping the speed consistent? Try using cruise control when you have a lengthy trip ahead of you. Cruise control helps keep that consistent speed and also helps your gas consumption. It ensures you get more miles out that tank of gas you just bought.
Don't Settle for the First Gas Station you see
I live in Bangor, and I live right by three gas stations. They all have similar prices per gallon of gas. All I have to do is drive a few minutes in town, and I can find gas that is 10 cents cheaper per gallon. I don't even have to leave Bangor. Many times what you see is not what you should get. Shop around. Gas stations near the highway often times have higher priced gas then those that are more in town. In looking for the cheapest gallon of gas in Bangor, I discovered that there is a 20 cent difference between the most expensive gallon and the least expensive. Twenty cents a gallon is a considerable amount of money when you're filling your tank. Nowadays there are apps for your phone that will search the area and find the cheapest gas in town. Check out this site to find gas prices in Maine. A cheaper gallon may be just a few miles down the road.
I'll try most anything if it means better gas mileage. I've tried even simpler ways of getting the most out of my tank of gas. I put my car into neutral when driving down hills so it takes the strain off my engine and it allows me to coast. It may not seem like much, but if you are going down lots of big hills, those hills can add up. Now these aren't the only ways to make your tank of gas last. In the most recent edition of Consumer Reports, there is an article about other ways to save gas. You can read the article here. It's worth checking out!
What have you done to conserve gas?