21 ways to save at the gas pump

With the national price for gasoline over four dollars a gallon, many people will have big problems filling their car’s gas tank. Americans are now spending about four percent of their take home pay on fuel. Gasoline now rivals the costs that consumers pay for housing and food.

Below is a list of different ways consumers can save at the gas station.

  1. Use e85 ethanol – If your car is a flex-fuel compatible car, use e85. E85 is a blend of gasoline that consists of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. If you do not have a flex-fuel vehicle, consider using an e85 ethanol conversion kit. Using ethanol supports America and its farmers. Check your car’s operation manual to see if your car is a flex-fuel vehicle.
  2. Use natural curves to slow down – Using the ground to slow your speed seems more like a way to save your brakes. But if you don’t use your brakes to slow down, this means you will have to take your foot off the gas pedal sooner when approaching a stop.
  3. Use cruise control – Using cruise control will keep your car going at a constant speed. When you don’t use cruise control, your speed will vary by a few miles an hour as your vehicle travels up and down hills. If you accelerate too much, you waste gas. If you slow down then accelerate again you use more gas. Staying at a constant speed will save on your miles per gallon.
  4. Follow the speed limits – If you follow posted speed limits, you can improve your fuel economy by 7-23%. Different vehicles vary but gas mileage usually decreases when traveling above 60 miles an hour. Every 5 mph that you drive over 60 miles an hour is basically paying an additional $0.20 per gallon for gasoline.
  5. Use cash when filling at the pump – Recently, many gas stations have been doing a little bit of underhanded advertising. They advertise a cheaper price on their large billboard, however, when you get to the pump you may see another, more expensive price, ten or so cents. That more expensive price is for people who pay with their credit cards, the cheaper price is for cash payments.
  6. Keep tires properly inflated – Under-inflated tires can reduce your miles per gallon by 0.4 percent for every psi drop in tire pressure of all the tires. When the tires are properly inflated they are safer and they can last longer. Properly inflated tires add up to 3% to your fuel economy.
  7. Remove excess weight – If your car has books, golf clubs, tools, clothes etc, take them out of your car. Extra weight means it takes more fuel to get up to speed.
  8. Keep windows closed – Having the car’s windows open all the time while driving creates drag. Drag reduces your car’s miles per gallon.
  9. Get regular oil changes – Having your oil changed every 3000 miles or every three months will help keep your engine well lubricated. A well lubricated engine runs smoother and more efficiently.
  10. Change your oil and air filters – Aside from improving your gas mileage by up to 10%, changing your filters regularly will help save your engine. Air filters remove and keep out impurities from your engine.
  11. Have your car tuned up – Keeping your vehicle properly tuned can increase your fuel economy by up to 4%.
  12. Wax your car – A bit of a stretch since the savings are negligible but keeping your car clean will reduce drag. The smoother the surface, the more aerodynamic.
  13. Remove roof rack – A roof rack, when loaded, can decrease a vehicle’s fuel economy by 5 percent. If the roof rack is not being used, it still can produce drag.
  14. Do not let your car idle – When you idle your car, you are simply wasting gas. Your car only needs about 30 seconds after it starts for it to be ready to drive.
  15. Use the correct octane gasoline – Check your car’s owners manual. If you are paying for premium gasolines, you may be paying five to thirty cents more a gallon then you need to be. Most cars on the road today needs the lowest octane gasoline. Using anything above that may be a waste since you will not get better gas mileage.
  16. Use the recommended grade of motor oil – Using your car’s recommended grade of motor oil will increase your fuel economy by up to 2%.
  17. Use fuel injector cleaner – Regular fuel injector treatments allows your car to clean its fuel injectors. Clogged fuel injectors means the gas does not burn as efficiently as it should so your car will require more to counter act the inefficiency.
  18. Use public transportation – If you pay taxes, you are paying for it anyway. Using buses and trains is much more friendly to the environment. However, it will reduce your gasoline budget but it may raise other costs.
  19. Walk, run, bike etc. – Short trips in the car may be unnecessary. If you’re driving around the block, try walking. It will save you gas and it will improve your health.
  20. Carpool – If you can find one other person to drive to your school or place of work, you improve your fuel economy by 50%. If you find three other people, you fuel economy improves 66%. And so on.
  21. Do one stop shopping – Don’t drive from store to store. The constant stopping and starting will waste gas.

Estimates for tune ups, fuel savings from vehicle maintenance, full roof racks, keeping tires properly inflated, using the recommended grade of motor oil, and speed limits are based on studies and literature reviews performed by Energy and Environmental Analysis, Inc., Washington, DC.

Air filter savings based on Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 1981. Automobile Fuel Consumption in Actual Traffic Conditions. Paris, France. Tests were performed before the introduction of computer-controlled, fuel-injection engines. The Department of Energy is currently researching the fuel economy effects of clogged air filters on modern engines.

Can e85 be mixed with regular gasoline?

Can e85 be mixed with regular gasoline?

This question is asked very often. Since e85 is already a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, it is just fine to mix the two fuels.

Let’s say that you fill up with e85 before a trip then continue to your destination. When you are ready to leave, you notice there are no e85 stations around. You have less then half a tank left of e85, and you need to fill up. Filling up your tank with regular gas is just fine for your flex fuel vehicle.

Filling up will regular gas will only dilute the e85 ethanol from the original fill up. With a rough calculation, if you have half a tank of e85 and fill up with regular gas, you will have approximately 40 percent ethanol and 60 percent gasoline in your tank.

If your vehicle is a flex fuel vehicle, it will be able to take any combination of e85 and gasoline.

Becoming Forget Oil Independent

This weekend we begin to celebrate our independence from Britain, but we won’t be celebrating independence from Iran, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia anytime soon.

While President Bush said his goal was to cut dependence on foreign oil by 75 percent by 2025, a Department of Energy agency says that his goal is about as attainable as my goal of playing centerfield for the Oakland A’s.

The Energy Information Administration says oil consumption in North America (mostly from the U.S.) will increase by 38 percent between 2003 and 2030, while the global demand for oil (due in large part to China and India) will increase by 47 percent to 118 million barrels per day.

The country expected to provide the most of the additional supply will be (say it with me) Iran!

The report, which is revised every year, says global consumption of renewable fuels will nearly double by 2030, but considering U.S. production of ethanol and biodiesel increases that much every year, that’s not saying much, and would only decrease the ration of crude-renewable fuel used from 5 to 1 to 4 to 1.

Whomever estimated the oil prices for the coming decades had their heads (say it with me) in the sand. The "reference case" (see graphic) estimates that oil prices will be lower in 25 years than they are now, a nice trick considering no dinosaurs have died in millennia to increase supply and most estimates are that we’ve already sucked half of the oil that there ever was out of the ground (Google Hubbert’s Peak if you don’t believe me).

More depressing facts from the report:

Worldwide marketed energy consumption is projected to grow by 71 percent between 2003 and 2030.

The report projects an increase in OPEC supply of only 11.8 million barrel per day over the same period (so I hope we stay friends with Venezuela and Canada, since that’s 27 million barrels short of what the world will need).

Oil could be has high as $96 a barrel by 2030, or one-third more than today.

So go take the family out for a nice long drive to celebrate the 4th. You may not get many more opportunities.