IT'S GETTING TOUGH again at the gas pump. And according to all of those who claim to know, it's just going to get more expensive as the year passes. What isn't so clear is why.
Regardless of the reasons, it again is becoming a time when consumers are looking for ways to control, or at least have some impact, on the amount of money being spent getting from point A to point B. In many communities, the most effective way to cut down on gas consumption is to use public transportation.
However, taking the bus isn't realistic for everyone (including many real estate agents) nor is it acceptable to many others. Expensive or not, we love to drive our cars. So, for those still driving, here is some advice found on numerous websites on how to lower those upcoming gas bills:
- Use Internet sites to find cheapest gas in your community. While it may not make sense to drive across town to save a penny a gallon, it could make sense if an errand already is taking you to that part of town. To compare prices in your community, check out www.gasbuddy.com. Generally speaking, avoid brand name gas stations.
- Shop with businesses or cards that offer gas discounts. Some grocery stores and other businesses offer discounts on gasoline that can amount to significant savings. If you are a member with a discount store (such as Costco), check prices there. Also, if using a credit card, use a gas rewards card to earn discounts on gas purchases.
- Fill it up then drive it until it's almost empty. It makes no sense to drive several times to put gas in your car when you can do it once. That said, it also is true that the more gas you are carrying around, the greater the weight of your vehicle. Let your tank get down to one-quarter before refilling.
- Don't idle your car. With the exception of stoplights, if you are sitting for more than a few seconds, turn off the car. Electronic fuel injectors use little extra gasoline to start a vehicle. And don't let the car sit and warm up. Start your car and drive away. A caveat here: If you have an older vehicle that uses a traditional carburetor, you may be ahead to let the car idle for short periods.
- Take advantage of your vehicle's GPS system and cruise control. Find the quickest or shortest route to your destination and drive there at a steady speed whenever possible. Oh, and set it so that you do not exceed the speed limit.
- Lighten up. Do you really need to be packing all that extra weight around in the trunk of your car? Probably not.
- Turn off your air conditioner and use the car's ventilation system rather than opening a window to cool down. Also turn off your lights (they put an additional load on your engine).
- Park in the shade. Gasoline will evaporate from your tank and it will do so at a quicker rate if it is in the sun.
- Go low. Use the lowest octane gasoline that is appropriate for your car. If your car starts "knocking," you may need to step up the octane level.
- Maintain the vehicle. Keep tires inflated to proper level and keep the car tuned up.
- Use public transportation. Or, if your destination is less than a mile away, walk.
- Car pooL.
Of course, I saved the best for last. To really cut back on your gas consumption, simply stop driving your car. Or, at least, start it less often and drive it fewer miles. You'll be surprised at how much money you can save.
Grant Sasek works for Real Estate Pipeline, an on-line lead generations service.