June 17, 2008

Most everyone knows the basics of saving gas, or improving gas mileage. One of the fist tips always mentioned is to carpool, or share rides. I am happy to report I have started doing this. My commute is 66 miles. I found someone in my building who is will to split the driving. This week, he found out about another employee who is interested in sharing rides as well. If we add a third person, I will only have to drive every third time. Some weeks, that will work out that I only have to drive one time. I am so excited about that possibility.

When I bought my car, I got a silver Pontiac Vibe because it combined many of the features I was looking for. I wanted a high MPG rating, and storage options. As a hatchback, I am not fighting with a trunk. I just load the items in the back, and if I need more room, I fold the seats down. It is silver, which in the hot climate I live in, means it reflects more heat, and it is easier to cool. Less A/C use means less gas wasted.

If you are unsure of the best way to conserve gas, check out The Drive Smarter Challenge. This site lets you input your car and tells you how much money you could save annually by following their tips. It’s pretty fun. I already took all extra weight out of my car, keep the tires properly inflated, and combine errands. They have a tip to “drive sensibly” in town, but they don’t define what that means. I’m pondering that one.

Another tip I put into practice when gas hit $3.50 a gallon is to drive the speed limit all the time. I used to speed around 10mph over, no matter the road. Now, I set my cruise on 65 or 55, depending on the highway. I get where I’m going on time, and as a bonus, I’ve noticed I’m calmer now when I drive. Before, when I sped, I was always looking for the cop. Now, I don’t ever stress. It has really made the commute more pleasant.

Another tip they suggest is to telecommute or to stagger work hours. This second option has worked great. I normally work 8-5, but my commuter buddy works 7:30-4:30. I asked if I could shift my hours and it was not a problem. This has worked great for the commute. Just that half hour difference makes a HUGE positive difference in the traffic. I sit a shorter time at stop lights, and I brake/accelerate/brake much less when we get into town.

There are also more extreme measures a person can take, and those I have yet to implement. Some people coast to stop signs instead of braking, turn off their A/C when going up hills, turn off their car at stop lights, and I have heard of turning your car off when going downhill. That last one is too dangerous for me.

What’s your favorite gas saving tip?

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