By J.D. Heyes | Natural News
As gasoline and diesel fuel prices remain through the roof — and there appears to be no end in sight to higher prices (despite a boom in oil and gas production in the U.S.) — it’s becoming more necessary to et the best fuel economy you possibly can out of every gallon.
With that in mind, and with the summer driving season approaching, Natural News looked at ways we could help the environment by helping you burn less fuel (and $ave $ome money in the proce$$):
— Drive with the A/C off: Yes, we know many of you have always heard that using the air conditioner makes your engine work a bit harder and, thus, use more fuel. Turns out, that’s true. The editors at Consumer Reports (CR) found that, in driving tests using a Honda Accord at highway speeds of 65 miles per hour, the car got an average of 3 mpg LESS when the A/C was running. Meanwhile, the effect on gas mileage at the same speed with the windows down was not measurable. The theory had been that open windows reduce the car’s aerodynamic qualities, but most vehicles today are very aerodynamic to begin with, CR reported.
— Drive moderately: Keeping your vehicle at lower, moderate speeds will save you money, no question about it. That might require more patience on your part, but driving 55 mph instead of 65 or 75 mph will save you money. “When we drove the Accord at a steady 65 mph, the car’s fuel economy dropped from 49 mpg to 42 mpg compared to 55 mph,” reported CR. “Speeding up to 75 mph cost the car another 5 mpg. One reason is that aerodynamic drag increases exponentially the faster you drive; it simply takes more fuel to power the car through the air.”
Based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s advice, HowStuffWorks.com states: “Speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.”
— Invest in a more fuel-efficient vehicle: This seems like a no-brainer, and really, it is. You may love your SUV or tricked-out pickup truck, but let’s face it: They get worse mileage than a four-cylinder compact.
— Keep your tires properly inflated: This simple tip can help you save a lot of money over the course of the year on fuel that you won’t have to buy. Also, “under-inflated tires compromise handling and braking,” says Consumer Reports. “Plus, they wear faster and run much hotter, which can lead to tire failure.” A Fetch123.com video on gas-saving tips reminds you that you can usually find your tire’s proper pressure figures on your vehicle’s door jamb.
— Have a plan and combine: Planning out your trips and combining as many errands as you can into a single trip can reduce the number of trips you have to make, and therefore save you both gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. “Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm,” says the U.S. Department of Energy. “Trip planning ensures that traveling is done when the engine is warmed-up and efficient, and it can reduce the distance you travel.”
— Carpooling: We are Americans, and as such, we love the freedom that we get from owning and driving our own cars. But commuting can save money and vehicle wear and tear, can be better for the environment and can reduce highway congestion (thereby shortening the morning and evening drive home!). For that matter, the Energy Department recommends telecommuting from home if your job will allow that (and businesses are increasingly turning to that model, because it reduces their overhead as well).
— Kill the engine: If you find that you’re going to be sitting and waiting on something or for someone for more than a few moments, turn off your vehicle’s engine. Idling for many minutes at a time wastes fuel and, in turn, costs you more money because you’ll have to fill up sooner. The exception here is diesel engines; they are designed to use very little fuel when idling.
— Shape up your vehicle: “Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test,” says the Dept. of Energy, “can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done.
“Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40%.” The result? Big savings.
— Don’t be a pack rat: The EPA recommends taking all unnecessary items out of your trunk (and the back seat — and the passenger seat!) to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle and, thus, get you better mileage.
— Definitely do go into ‘overdrive’: If your car has overdrive gearing (on 5-speed manual transmissions and 4-speed automatic transmissions), make use of the overdrive gear as soon as your speed is high enough. If you have a manual transmission, lower your shift speed for better fuel economy.
This article originally appeared on Natural News.