The website Fueleconomy.gov states that for every 5 mph driven over the speed of 60 mph, 24 cents per gallon of gas is effectively added to the cost of fuel, because of the decrease in fuel efficiency for your vehicle when traveling at higher speeds. If this simple formula is accurate, then driving at 75 mph would cost an extra 72 cents per gallon. Driving 80 mph would add an extra ninety-six cents per gallon!
Combined with rapid acceleration, and sudden braking, speeding can reduce fuel efficiency by thirty-three percent, according to the same website. A vehicle with a fuel efficiency of twenty miles per gallon, driven aggressively as noted above, would be only getting about 12-13 miles per gallon, resulting in the owner paying far more in gas costs than if he or she drove sensibly.
Gas prices currently in the U.S. have risen, as everyone is aware, but are we aware we could simply drive slower, and in some cases, stop speeding illegally, to save money on gas?
Republicans and some Democrats, including the President, are going ahead to try to accelerate more offshore oil drilling in American waters, and yet extra drilling won’t bring gas prices down significantly because the amount of oil we can produce is so small, it is next to nothing compared to the huge amounts we consume. (The LA Times reported that we Americans consume nearly 25 percent of the world’s crude oil, and yet our own reserves equal only two percent.)
Yet the current federal government apparently is going to drill more anyway, even though it won’t help gas prices much and is clearly a political ploy. At the same time, none of the politicians are telling people free things they can do to reduce their gas consumption and therefore save money.
Maintaining the correct air pressure in tires also helps fuel efficiency, up to three percent. If the engine is tuned properly, that can save another four percent. Idling also wastes gas, so if you are waiting in a parking lot for someone who is doing an errand, turn off the engine.
Another free, and very easy thing to do to increase fuel efficiency and save money, is simply to remove any unnecessary items from your vehicle. Some people drive around with many pounds of stuff in their trunks or back areas, though they don’t use these items on their trips or when they arrive.
If possible, park your car in shade during hot weather so you don’t have to blast the air conditioner to cool it down. If it is not possible, use a windshield sun shade as the dashboard is a solar collector and can get very hot, which requires energy to cool down.
Driving around with an empty roof rack that you don’t ever use will also decrease fuel efficiency because it creates extra drag from air. Replace worn tires, and consider low-rolling resistance ones to increase mileage also.
These are just a number of things you can do that are vehicle-related, but of course, we can all car pool, drive less, ride public transportation, ride bikes, and maybe even consider walking once in a while? The Europeans ride bikes, walk and ride public transportation, and are a little less in girth than we are, so it seems to be working for them.
Image Credit: Aaron Lawrence