One of my tips on cutting monthly expenses that has had the most interest was about saving on gasoline. Learning the art of hypermiling has helped me increase my miles per gallon (mpg) and save money on gas.
Summer 2018 had the highest gas prices since 2014. In addition to the monetary cost to the average driver, fracking and refining crude oil have their own environmental costs.
There are a number of things we can do to lower our gasoline consumption. Many of these gas saving tips can also save time and improve your health.
Let’s start with the obvious tips for driving less, then move onto specifics, including what time of day/day of the week gas prices are cheapest and how to hypermile.
Here are some tips to reduce gasoline usage
1. Walk or Ride a bike; Use Public Transit; Car pool
The city in which I live has very poor public transportation. My hospital has car pooling groups, but I live so close that there are none in my area.
I thought about riding a bike to work, but my hospital is in a scary bad part of town. (Even the non-violent stuff that has gone down is crazy. A guy on a bicycle tried to sell me “coconut shrimp” from his backpack.) So I do drive to work, but on the weekends I try to minimize my car use.
We enjoy spending our weekends in our community attending cookouts with neighbors, swimming, biking, walking, and going to parks/playgrounds.
We have a wonderful community center where we often meet up with our friends on nights and weekends. Walking/riding our bikes not only saves on gas, it’s also great exercise, and we get to know a lot of our neighbors.
2. Aim to live within 20 minutes (rush hour) of work
When I was house-hunting, my realtor showed us some communities that were just a few blocks further, but when you considered the traffic flow, lights, and turns would have added at least 10 more minutes to my commute each way. That’s 20 minutes per day, 100 minutes per week, 400 minutes per month, 4,800 minutes per year! That would have been an additional 80 hours (2 work weeks) of sitting in traffic per year!
Every mile further you drive costs time, gasoline, and wear-and-tear on your vehicle.
3. Take the first parking spot you find
I am bewildered when people drive around looking for parking spots. I make a point to take the first spot I see. Again, saving not only gas and time, but giving myself some much-needed fresh air and exercise.
4. plan your errands to avoid any unnecessary miles
Whenever possible, stop at places that are already on your route. This saves not only gas, but also time.
5. when to get gas
Time of day
Some people say to fill up in the morning before the warmth of the sun heats and expands the gas. But a study by Consumer Reports found that the double-walled underground tanks keep the gas at a steady temperature. The first few gallons pumped are warmer regardless of the time of day. They found that at best, one might save a few cents on the first few gallons pumped.
(Consumer Reports did say that the gas will be hotter in the hours after a new tank of gas is delivered to the gas station, regardless of the time of day. So avoid filling up after a new delivery.)
Of note, many gas stations raise their prices at around 10:00 am (especially on Thursdays in preparation for weekend travel). Which explains why you may see prices higher on your way home than they were when you were driving into work. So if you need gas on a Thursday it may be best to fill up in the morning.
Day of the week
A GasBuddy study of gas prices from January to March 2018 found gas prices are generally least expensive on Mondays, followed by Sundays.
The most expensive days to fill up are Fridays, followed by Thursdays.
Avoid over-filling. Once the tank shuts off, don’t keep filling to “top off.”
Make sure the gas cap is properly sealed to minimize gas evaporating.
Filling up when your gas tank is no more than half-empty might help save a few cents per fill-up due to less evaporation.
7. Learn the art of hypermiling
Hypermiling is driving in a manner that minimizes fuel consumption. Techniques for non-hybrid cars include:
Coast as much as is safely possible
- Roll to a stop
- Take your foot off the accelerator when going downhill
- If the light is red, why are you accelerating? Stop doing that!
- Avoid high RPMs
- Use cruise control
- Drive the speed limit
Remove unnecessary weight from your car
- Also remove anything that may increase resistance (e.g., roof racks)
Take the route with the fewest left turns and stops
- I try to “follow the green” in life, including green lights
Avoid idling whenever possible
- Say “no” to the drive-thru
- Park and go inside
- Turn off car if you will be stopped for >1 minute
Use Air Conditioning for Highway driving
- If you’re sitting in traffic, it may be most energy-efficient to roll down windows
- But when driving, the drag from having the windows rolled down cancels out any gain from having the A/C off
- Opening the sunroof can reduce miles per gallon even with the A/C off
- See the study by Edmunds
But, don’t keep the Air Conditioning running all the time
- The A/C does pull some power from the engine (especially in older model cars).
- Turn your air off once it’s cold enough in your vehicle then back on again when it’s warmed up (I keep the fan running when the A/C is off)
8. FOR HYBRID CARS
- “Pulse and glide” is a technique for hybrid cars to provide electric assist
- For more techniques to maximize efficiency for hybrid cars, see here
What are your best gasoline saving tips?