Want to drive one month for free? Below are 5 simple steps towards better fuel efficiency that will help pay for your extra month of driving. When the numbers are applied to the nation as a whole, the amount of conservation achieved is mind boggling. A few thrifty, conservative tips will save you and our entire country save a whole lot of money.
Drive Like Gandhi
Ok, maybe Gandhi didn’t drive much, but can you imagine him driving aggressively? Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. According to FuelEconomy.gov, aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.
That’s 5% to 33% wasted gas because cutting off that idiot on the highway during traffic and getting one car length ahead makes you feel better. What does that cost you?
At $2/gal, that’s $0.10 to $0.66 per gallon! Just a few summers ago, gas was over $4/gal. Aggressive driving costs up to $1.32 per gallon! That’s over 5 bucks for a gallon of gas!
Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
Buy a manual transmission
I, personally, think a stick shift is more fun to drive, but it’s also significantly more efficient than a manual transmission.
Consumer Reports shows 10% better gas mileage on many common manual tranmission cars. The same study also shows better 0-60 acceleration.
Why is that? Because you, the smart driver, can shift earlier or later, as needed. When I drive a stick, I conscious shift into higher gears earlier than an automatic transmission would. I watch the tachometer sink to lower RPM levels, which means the engine is using less gas. Likewise, you can ride out a lower gear longer when accelerating, giving you higher RPMs, which gives you more power to accelerate more quickly.
More than that, sticks just look cooler. True story, my brother once bought a (used) Corvette when he was younger. He wanted to look cool… except I made fun of him for buying a corvette with an automatic transmission. I often look into the windows of Mustangs and other sporty cars. Only manual trannies make the grade.
I’m pretty sure Gandhi would have loved a stick.
Observe the Speed Limit!
Gandhi wouldn’t speed either, would he? Each vehicle has its own optimal cruising speed, but all vehicles experience rapid decreases in efficiency after 60mph.
The rule of thumb is about $0.24 per 5mph over 60. Want to cruise at 70mph? You might make good time on your trip, but you’re paying half a buck more per gallon for it.
Lose the weight!
Gandhi wasn’t a big guy and he didn’t have much stuff to haul around. Each 100lbs. of weight costs you 1-2% fuel efficiency. This impacts smaller cars worse than larger ones.
Got some golf clubs in the back you’re hauling around? Get ‘em out! Unless you are playing that day, store them in the garage. Keeping them in your car is costing you money.
Keep your car in shape
The GOP may have teased Obama’s energy plan by giving out tire gauges labelled “Obama’s Energy Plan” during the campaign, but the President was right. Keeping your tires properly inflated will improve efficiency up to 3% or 0.3% for every 1 PSI for all four tires.
Keeping your car well-tuned and in good shape yields another 4%. Regular oil changes and using the correct type of oil recommended by the manufacturer yields another 1-2%. (See stats).
Gandhi was a vegetarian, refrained from drinking alcohol, and refrained from promiscuity. The man would have taken good care of his car.
Gandhi believed in collective action. An individual is powerless, but a nation’s collective will is immensely strong.
What do all these fuel efficiency savings add up to when applied to the entire U.S.? Hundreds of millions of barrles of oil and billions of dollars.
12,000 miles per year at an average of 25mpg is 480 gallons of gas or about $1,200. All of the tips above could reasonably achieve 25% gains in efficiency. Reducing your bill by 25% means you’ll only spend $900. $300 savings!
What, you aren’t impressed by $300 annual savings? Let’s look at the big picture…
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics says there are over 250 million cars in the U.S. and the Federal Highway Administration says American drivers laid down 249.5 billion miles of rubber just in April 2009! That’s around 3 trillion miles driven annually.
Now, I think that’s a lot of miles, and what if we all achieved a mere 10% better fuel efficiency? We, as a nation, would save over 300 billion miles worth of gas. That’s a full month of driving everywhere in America.
How much oil is that? Aren’t we all trying to reduce our dependence on foreign oil?
According to the Energy Information Administration, a single barrel of oil makes roughly 20 gallons of gas. The BTS says the average car in America gets about 22mpg. So, one barrel of oil will power a single car for about 440 miles. Saving 300 billion miles of driving will reduce our need for over 680 million barrels of oil! (300b miles / 440 miles per barrel = 681m barrels). At $50 a barrel, that’s over $34 billion saved.
The EIA says we consume roughly 20m barrels of oil daily in the U.S., with nearly half of that (9m barrels) being used for gasoline. Saving 680m barrels of oil by simply increasing fuel efficiency by 10% means we’d save 34 days worth of oil.
There’s your free month of driving. See you on the highway, but first check your tires.