The best and most straightforward ways to consume less energy (gas) in order from easy to a little more attention.
#1 Drive Less
Make a commitment to drive less by walking to nearby destinations. It’s good for your health and the environment. Approximately 50% of car use is for trips within 3 miles of the home, which is within reasonable range for walking. If not, then it is easy biking for shorter trips like going to the gym. If you bike to the gym it can serve as a warm up as well. You’ll be saving fuel and reducing pollution.
#2 Plan & Combine Trips
Whether you are going across town or across the country, combine multiple errands into one round trip. In doing so, plan for the most efficient route in terms of no back-tracking while being cognizant to avoid heavy traffic areas, road construction, hilly terrain, etc. With thinking ahead and a little organization, you can group your chores and things-to-do into fewer trips, saving you time and fuel expense. Make it a habit to pick things up, if possible, on the way home from work or when you are already out. Make a list to remember things you need.
#3 Drive with Patience / Drive Steadily
Almost 50% of the energy (gas) needed to move your car goes to acceleration. Accelerating, slowing down and accelerating back up to higher speeds consumes much more gas. Aggressive “Jack-rabbit” starts and hard braking can increase fuel consumption by as much as 40%. Tests have shown that fast acceleration from a light or stop sign to race to the next light or stop sign to brake hard reduces travel time by 4% max, while emissions go up 5-times. The proper way to accelerate is slowly and smoothly. The most efficient speed for your car depends depends on your car from weight, aerodynamics, number of gears in your transmission and the gear ratios. Use cruise control on long stretches of highway driving, cruise control can save fuel by helping your car maintain a steady speed. Turn it off in hilly areas – it can not read the road ahead, so it does not know what is coming up (slow trucks or the top of the hill).
#4 Remove Excess Weight
Excess weight also uses more fuel. Remove unnecessary items from inside the vehicle, trunk or truck bed. An extra 100lbs (48 kg) of weight can increase your MPGs and fuel bill by 2%. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones. By the way, removing excess weight includes your own, so drop those L-Bs and save some money on gas and greenhouse gases.
#5 Tire Pressure
Make sure your tires are properly inflated to increases a car’s ability to roll (glide) by optimizing the surface area of tires on the road to decrease friction. Under-inflated tires can cause fuel consumption to increase exponentially. Be sure to not over-inflate because over-inflated tires loose traction and can be dangerous. Look at your tires and check tire pressure at least once a month. In addition to getting the optimal gas mileage, you will prolong the life of your tires, thereby decreasing long-term consumption of tires and the materials that go into their production: rubber, radial metal, plastics, oil, etc. To determine the correct tire inflation for your car, consult the car’s operator manual or check online. According to the Energy Information Administration, tire efficiency could save approximately 800,000 barrels of oil a day.
#6 Turn Your Car Off / Don’t Idle
Do not idle in summer or winter. Idling wastes fuel, gets you nowhere and produces unnecessary greenhouse gases. If you’re going to be stopped for more than 30 seconds, except in traffic, turn off the engine. In winter, don’t idle a cold engine for more than 30 seconds before driving. Older vehicles may need more idling time when first started. In cold conditions all vehicles may need more idling time to warm up and ensure the windshield is fully defogged. Be sure your vehicle is warmed enough to prevent stalling.
When it’s safe, glide as far as you can with your foot off the gas pedal and off the brake before stopping, like when you are exciting the highway. Instead of staying on the gas, then braking, glide down without any gas and brake slowly. Every time you press the brakes, you throw away the energy it took to get going fast, and it drops your gas mileage. Also if you see a light ahead turn red, immediately take your foot off the gas and glide up to it. To max out your glide, standard/manual transmission cars should be put in neutral (not in traffic). Automatic transmissions can be put in neutral but only if you are sure you are going to come to a stop or maybe 5 mph (first gear speed) when you put the car back in drive.
#8 Cut Down on Electrical Usage
Turn off anything electrical that you are not using, including head lights. People that drive with their headlights on at noon are wasting energy and gas. It decreases MPGs. When you can, use your air conditioner sparingly. Using a vehicle’s air conditioner on a hot summer day can increase fuel consumption as much as 10% in city driving. When it is cool enough, use the flow-through ventilation on your car instead of the air conditioner. At low speeds, opening the window will also save reduce fuel consumption by reducing AC use. At higher speeds however, using the AC may be more efficient than the wind resistance from open windows and sunroof.
#9 Tighten Gas Caps
Gas can evaporate. According to the Car Care Council, loose, missing or damaged gas caps cause 147 million gallons of gas to evaporate every year. Also, park in shady areas when possible. Besides helping to keep your car cool, which reduces the need for air conditioning, parking in the shade also minimizes the loss of gas due to evaporation.
#10 Get Sleek
Think aerodynamic and lightweight. Keep windows rolled up on the open highway to reduce drag. Remove bicycle and ski racks when not in use.