(From the Financial Literacy Blog) – In the past year, the price per gallon of gasoline has been steadily rising. With prices reaching over $3.50 per gallon in some parts of Maine, many are carpooling, negotiating remote work opportunities, and cutting back on holiday travel. However, with Maine being a known commuter state, driving to your routine destinations can be hard to avoid. If you’re looking to save money on gas as prices continue to climb, consider doing the following:
Check Your Tire Pressure
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, people can improve their gas mileage by as much as 3% by simply making sure their tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The less your tires are inflated, the more resistance there is between your vehicle and the road. To find your vehicle’s recommended tire pressure, check the sidewall of your tire for a number or refer to your vehicle’s manual.
Cut Out Any Clutter
The more weight you add to your vehicle, the harder your vehicle needs to work to accelerate. The strain of added weight can have a noticeable impact on fuel economy. If your car’s trunk or the bed of your truck is full of things you don’t regularly use, it may be time to clean it out. Further, rooftop storage racks or containers create drag by reducing the aerodynamics of your vehicle. For example, with winter on the horizon, you may not be using the bike rack on the roof of your vehicle––at least until spring. To save money on fuel, consider removing your bike rack (or whatever extra storage accessory it may be) until then.
Use Gas-Finding Apps
With large gas station chains and mom-and-pop service stops open for business throughout the state, it’s likely you’ve found varying prices during your travels. One of the worst feelings is filling your tank and then driving a mile down the road only to see far cheaper fuel prices. To help you find the most competitive price on gasoline, consider using a gas-finder app. Price comparison apps such as GasBuddy, Gas Guru, or Waze list the gas stations in your area, allowing you to find the one with the lowest price. All these apps are free and are available for both Apple and Android devices.
Park Further Away From Your Destination
According to a 2017 study, U.S. motorists spend around 17 hours per year looking for parking and waste approximately $345 in fuel doing so. With gas prices being more expensive since the release of the study, it’s safe to assume even more money is spent searching for that perfect parking spot. If you’re looking to reduce your fuel waste, consider settling for parking spaces a bit further from your destination. Instead of driving around the block or circling Target’s parking lot for the fifth time, head straight toward a less-congested parking area and put on your walking shoes. Not only will you save fuel and money, but you may even end up saving time as well while getting some extra steps in.
Plan More Efficient Routes
Vehicles use more fuel during acceleration than while coasting or cruising. This means the shortest route to your destination doesn’t always translate into being the most fuel-efficient route. For example, let’s say your GPS shows two routes you can take to work. The first option shows a 10-minute commute time. However, it requires a lot of acceleration and deceleration––with lots of stoplights, congestion, and poor traffic flow. The second option shows a 12-minute commute time. With this option, however, you won’t have to stop at any lights and there is much better traffic flow. While you may assume the extra two minutes will cost you more in gasoline, the longer route may end up saving you money, as your vehicle isn’t working as hard to operate. Consider mapping out your commutes by using navigation apps that incorporate real-time traffic data, such as Waze. Other apps such as Apple Maps or Google Maps even show stoplights and other traffic control measures.
Are you near a chain gas station that offers a loyalty program? Many major gas chains have an app-based loyalty program that provides special offers in the convenience store, allows for payment at the pump through your phone, accrues points, and takes so many cents off per gallon each time you fuel up at their station. Each program varies from company to company, but this can be another good tool to use to save at the pump.
For more options to save on gas, contact your local credit union, who may offer debit cards with cash-back or reward programs.
WMTW Channel 8 Explores This Topic
The League spoke with WMTW on this timely topic to help consumers save at the pump this holiday season.