Here are some quick tips for saving at the gas pump this holiday from Ga$ Smart$, a book by Dr. Ronald Weier:
• Convert groceries into gas: Get some of your gas money back by using promotional discounts and cash rebates that may be available at convenience stores, grocery stores, and other retails.
See what cards or offers are available in your area, then save money by turning your groceries into discounts at the pump.
• Fill up in the morning: Fuel will be more dense and energy-rich in the cooler morning temperatures. If you’re commuting, fill up on your way to work, not on your way home.
• Pretend your odometer is a taxi fare meter: This isn’t too far fetched, because each mile uses fuel, and fuel costs money. If you know the price per gallon and the approximate fuel economy your vehicle delivers, spending a few minutes with your pocket calculator will help you make this translation.
If gas costs $4 per gallon and you’re averaging 20 miles per gallon, each time the odometer racks up another 10 miles, you’ve just lost another two dollars. If that doesn’t seem like much, wait until the gauge hits "E" and it’s time for another $60 fill-up.
• Avoid the pancake idle: The remote starter and breakfast table warm-up might make your car comfortably toasty by the time you’ve finished your pancakes, but you’ve been getting zero miles per gallon in the process.
It’s much more efficient to start out from cold and gradually warm up the whole car (i.e., more than just the engine and transmission) as you travel.
• The invisible cop behind you: Have you noticed how your driving behavior changes drastically when a police patrol car is in the vicinity? Police officers report noticeable differences in how they are treated when they’re off duty and driving their personal vehicle.
For best efficiency, drive as though a patrol car is behind you. If that doesn’t impress you, pretend your mother-in-law is in the back seat.
• Take the bus, subway, walk, jog, bike, or join a carpool: If you’re not driving your car, it can’t use any gas. As a bonus, you’ll also avoid traffic headaches, parking expenses, and other worries.
Ronald M. Weiers, PhD <http://gas-smarts.com/> is an experienced teacher and textbook author in the fields of business statistics and marketing research. He has authored eight automotive books on topics ranging from repair and maintenance to fuel efficiency and safety.