With the rising cost of gas, it seems we are inundated with ways we can save a bit money at the pump. Are the things we are hearing accurate? How much gas are we really going to save and is it worth it to even try what we are hearing? Edmunds.com is a website run by Edmunds, Inc. According to their website, they publish four websites that "empower, engage and educate automotive consumers, enthusiasts and insiders". The folks over at edmunds.com decided to run some experiments to test the theories we are all hearing. These experiments were performed in real-world situations, not on closed tracks or simulated scenarios, and are easily repeatable by anyone. The results:
- You can achieve up to 37% savings, averaging 31%, by braking and accelerating at a moderate rate. Try to look at the road ahead of you and plan ahead. Braking hard and punching the gas, are great ways to burn gas without getting anyway.
- Driving the speed limit, at least on the highway, can save you about 12%. In the Edmunds test, they drove for 50 miles with the cruise control set at 65MPH and 50 miles at 75MPH. You could probably save even more gas by driving around 55-60MPH. Most reports that I have heard/read, state that fuel efficiencly drops drastically around 60MPH.
- Using cruise control for normal driving situations can save 7%, on the average. With the exception of driving in mountainous areas, cruise control helps to ensure smooth driving and avoids unnecessary braking and accelerating.
- With most vehicles, there is minimal difference in gas efficiency when it comes to how you cool the interior. Using the air conditioner does use extra gas, but driving with the windows down creates drag and decreases fuel efficiency. So what to do? Do what makes you and your passengers most comfortable. The gas consumption of both methods is about the same.
- Tire pressure, while important for safety, does not do much to alter fuel efficiency.
- When idiling for more than 1 minute, it is more fuel efficient to turn the vehicle off.
A few other tips I have heard that were not tested by Edmunds, but that make sense are:
- Remove excess weight from your vehicle. Every 100 pounds reduces your miles per gallon by 2%. I joke with my husband that this is why we need to lose weight. Just 50 pounds a piece and we can save money on our gas ;0)
- Keep your vehicle properly tuned. According to fueleconomy.gov, a dirty air filter can reduce fuel efficiency by 10% and a faulty oxygen sensor reduces it by up to 40%.
- Combining trips is an obvious way to save gas. The less you drive, the less gas you use. Combining your own trips helps, but so does combining your trips with others. Car pooling and ride sharing are great ways to reduce the number of miles being driven and therefore the amount of gas being consumed. Even homemakers can "car pool" to the grocery store or the library with a neighbor and/or friend.