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Cut Gas Costs This Holiday Traveling Season with Three Easy Tips

November 26, 2013 - 9:23am

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Turning off your engine while waiting in the parking lot is a great way to save money on gas. | Photo courtesy of Kristy Keel-Blackmon, NREL/21196.

Turning off your engine while waiting in the parking lot is a great way to save money on gas. | Photo courtesy of Kristy Keel-Blackmon, NREL/21196.

Yesterday you learned from Becky about three tools to help you save on fuel costs as you plan your holiday traveling. In addition to using these tools, here are several easy tips to help you drive more efficiently and save even more money on fuel.

  1. Slow your roll: Aggressive driving, such as speeding and rapidly accelerating or braking, wastes gas and can lower your mileage by 5% to 33%. While the speed for optimal fuel economy ranges with each vehicle, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 miles per hour (mph). In fact, every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas, depending on the price for gas in your area. To find out how much speedy driving is costing you, check out this new speed penalty tool.
  2. Clean out your trunk: If you’re like me and tend to use your car as a mobile closet, it’s easy to forget what you have in your trunk. Unfortunately, this can cost you in lost fuel efficiency—fuel economy decreases by up to 2% for every extra 100 pounds in your vehicle, and the extra weight generally affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.  Before you hit the road for Thanksgiving, try to determine whether you need to bring that bag of kitty litter you’ve procrastinated on unloading.
  3. Avoid needless idling: I know it’s tempting to keep your car on and idling as you wait in the parking lot or the driveway, but you can save money and reduce pollution by just turning the engine off when parked. Idling can use a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, depending on the vehicle’s size and whether the air conditioner is being used. Burning that extra fuel can really add up over time if you’re not careful!

The cost savings above assume gasoline price of $3.19 per gallon. For more fuel-efficient driving tips or to customize these savings based on the price for gasoline in your area, visit fueleconomy.gov.

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