Everybody could save money on gas.

Most people could easily save hundreds of dollars every year. Others could save more.

The tricky part is: Driving spends money on gas pennies at a time. So it’s easy to ignore how much it really costs.

For example, one fast start could cost a few cents. Sitting in your car with the engine running could cost five cents per minute. And driving aggressively could cost dollars per trip.

All of this can add up to costing hundreds of dollars per year.


Save Gas, Save Money, Image by Steve Kaye

Why bother to save money on gas?

#1) Saving money on gas leaves more money to spend on yourself.

#2) Using less gas produces less pollution, which is good for the environment.

#3) Driving less leaves time for more important activities.


Here’s how to save money on gas:


1) Leave It Off

Save gas by not using your car. For example:

Do: Shop by phone or over the Internet.

Do: Walk for local errands.


2) Shut It Off

Do: Turn off the engine as soon as you park.

Do: Turn off the engine any time when you have to wait for more than a few minutes, such as at a railroad crossing.

Bonus Do: Start the engine after you lock the door and fasten your seat belt.

Never: Leave the car parked with the engine running. This wastes gas and makes your car an easy target for thieves.

Important: Two minutes of letting the engine idle is equal to driving a mile – Unless you’re running the air conditioning, then it’s more.

I have seen people waste more than $10 worth of gas while they slept or ate a meal in a their truck with the engine running. If they did this every work day, that adds up to wasting thousands of dollars every year.

When I mentioned this to a fellow, he told me it was okay because his company pays for the gas.


3) Change Time Zones

Do: Travel when others are less likely to be on the road. If your company allows flex time hours, choose a time window that avoids driving during rush hour.

Do: Shop early or late in the day. Besides encountering less traffic, you’ll find shorter lines in the stores.


4) Drive Smart

Do: Drive carefully, allowing enough room for an emergency stop. You’ll save money, feel better, and provide a more enjoyable ride for your passengers.

Note: Reckless drivers cause accidents.


5) Pretend That You Are Riding a Bicycle

Do: Imagine that you’re the engine. So avoid quick starts and racing to a stop because this wastes energy.

Do:  Start gradually and coast to a stop.

Note: Quick starts use a lot more gas.


6) Be stingy

Do: Evaluate every trip for its importance.

Do: Combine errands on a single outing. Then start with the most distant destination. This way, you’ll warm up your engine while driving there. And you’ll get better mileage between the other stops as you drive toward home.

Do: Join a car pool for commuting to work or taking your children to school.

Do: Walk with your children. (The exercise will benefit all of you.)

Do: Use public transportation. Then you can use the travel time for reading, planning, or relaxing. Often public transportation costs less than gas plus parking.


7) Travel Light

Do: Carry only what you need in your car. Extra weight wastes gas.

Do: Remove flags and decorations. These cause added drag, which wastes gas.


8) Shop Smart

Do: Before driving far to a special store, estimate the cost of gas plus the value of your time. Then compare those costs with the savings that you expect.

Do: Shop from stores close to home.


9) Keep Your Car Healthy

Do: Buy routine tune ups.

Do: Fix problems as soon as you notice them. Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.


10) Maintain tire pressure

Do: Make sure the tires are properly inflated.

 (Soft tires use more gas.)


11) Bonus: Story about Cars, Dating, and Money

Once a young man told me that he planned to buy a big truck to impress women.

Let’s recognize that this truck will cost a lot more than a car and use a lot more gas. The difference could be $500 per month (give or take a few hundred).

He will impress women more by buying a fuel-efficient car and investing the money he saves. Then he might have a million dollars (give or take a few hundred thousand) by the time he retires.


Want to Know More?

These two organizations are working to reduce the use of gas. See:

360.org

Climate Reality Project

Here’s more info.

My Letter to the CEO of Shell Oil