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Saving Money & Gas

by: Roon Williams

Saving money on fuel is now on everyone's mind.  With fuel prices topping $2.50 per gallon, things were tight enough anyway.  However, following Katrina and an approximate 25% decrease in the production of gasoline and prices well over $3.00 per gallon, Americans are now serious about ways to decrease their costs.

Ultimately, there are two ways that people can reduce their costs, through increased efficiency, and through conservation.

Increasing fuel efficiency

To increase fuel efficiency, consumers must maximize both the efficiency of the car and their schedule.

The car is probably the easiest thing to make efficient, though between the two, it certainly costs the most.  Cars work better and burn less gas when proper maintenance is performed and it is operated in an efficient manner.  

Tips on fuel efficiency

Tire inflation -  Under-inflated tires create more drag and the car has to work harder.  However, don't over-inflate your tires thinking that if a little is good, a lot must be better.  Accidents are more likely to happen when you don't have the prescribed amount of traction on the road, and tires have been known to blow when not inflated properly.

Change your oil and have all serviceable components of the car lubricated on a regular basis.  Proper lubrication means less wear, but it also means less drag.  Therefore, the car performs better.

Change your air cleaner -  It's only a few dollars.  A dirty air filter can cost you 10% or more of your total gas bill.  And at $50 for a tank of gas, you've about paid for that filter in efficiency on the first tank alone.

Tune-ups - Today's cars run a long time without a tune up, but they can still get a bit sluggish and run inefficiently with so much as a single faulty sparkplug that only works part of the time.  Follow your manufacturer's recommendations on car maintenance, and don't play around when it comes to such parts.  Use well-known and respected auto parts instead of saving a few cents on an off-brand spark plug.

Fill your tank all the way up - Many people only fill up part of the way because they believe that they will burn less fuel that way.  In fact, the opposite is true.  By the time you pull into the station, sit behind a car or two, and turn your engine off and then on again, you will have wasted quite a bit of gas.  Fill it up to keep your car's use of that gas more efficient.

Watch the gas pedal - This is particularly hard for city drivers who are used to charging for the next red light, only to sit there until they do just that again.  When you start up quickly, you burn far more gas than if you start up slowly.  It all adds up.

Increasing conservation

Bottom line, the MPG on your SUV is only going to go just so high.  There's nothing you can do short of driving it down a mountain road that will make it get better than 20 MPG.  Sooner or later though, you do reach the bottom of that mountain.  Then you have to start driving back up again, and your gas mileage goes back down.

This is where conservation comes in, and this is when some folks get defensive with, "I have a right to drive my Hummer anywhere I want, any time I want".  Yes you do!  Sort of.  You live in America, and that allows you the same privileges that others have who live here to drive almost anything you want, almost anywhere you want.  But... it's not a right!  Not in the Constitutional sense.  But that's another issue.  

It's time to get over this idea that we have the "right" to do whatever it is that we choose and getting all testy about it.  That kind of thinking simply doesn't make sense in a world where there is a shortage of commodities such as gas and oil.  We need to be responsible, not proclaiming our rights.  The funny part is that acting responsibly doesn't require all that much more.

Generally, conservation means not doing exactly what you want whenever you want.  It means not running down to the store for a soda or a pizza or going out for a drive just because it's a lovely day.  

Conservation means combining trips.  Go to the store on the way home from work, not later that evening.  Let the kids take the bus to school.  They will be a bit nervous the first time, but they might actually enjoy it.  Picking your kids up from school doesn't mean you love them more, but it does waste gas and it does take up one more spot on the road.

There are a lot of ways to conserve:

When you do go to the store, make a list so that you don't forget things and have to go back again

Call a couple of neighbors and ask if they have to go too

When you have to do errands, chase out earlier in the day to avoid sitting in rush hour traffic and burning up extra fuel

Call before you go to make sure that a business has what you need instead of going there and finding out that they don't.  Any time that you are rolling through parking lots, you are getting the worst gas mileage possible.  





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