Hurricane Harvey has wrecked gasoline refineries all along the Texas coast, sending prices at the pump soaring to a two-year high. Higher gas prices will rule at least for the next couple of weeks, and possibly longer: we’re heading into the worst of the hurricane season now, so depending on where the storms make landfall, you could be spending a lot more money on gas for a longer period of time.
In my popular book Beat High Gas Prices Now! I offer many ways you can save $20 to $50 per month at the pump. Here are 11 of the easiest opportunities you have right now to beat higher gas prices– without buying a new, more fuel-efficient car or giving up driving altogether.
How to Beat Higher Gas Prices
⇒Get a Tune Up
Drive Less – The single best way to spend less money at the pump is by buying less gas. The best way to avoid buying gas is by not driving.
Note that I don’t say, use Uber or Lyft. If prices rise enough, car services and taxis will charge an “emergency surcharge” or some other fee to cover their own increased gas costs.
BONUS: Burning one gallon of gasoline generates almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas that is causing climate change. When you drive less, you generate a lot less CO2, so not only are you saving money but you’re doing your part to stop climate change, too.
1-Telecommute -If there ever was a time to work from home, this is it. You’ll spend nothing on gasoline and save a lot of travel time that you can use for either work or leisure. If your company already has a telecommute policy, take advantage of it. If not, ask your boss if you can work from home a couple of days a week as long until the prices at the pump come down.
2-Car Pool – If you still need to go to a physical work location, find a couple of people to carpool with. Four people sharing a ride keeps three cars off the road, and shares the price of gasoline four ways.
BONUS: Carpool lanes are usually faster than regular lanes used by only one person per car.
3-Use Mass Transit – If your community has a decent subway, bus or light rail system, now is the time to use it. Subways and light rail systems are electrified, so fares should not be affected by higher gas prices.
4-Walk and Bicycle – I have been car-less for about four months now and have been surprised by how easy it is to walk to many places I used to drive to. If you want to walk to the grocery store, invest in a cart on wheels so it’s easy to get your groceries home.
Drive Smarter – The way we drive has a big impact on how much gasoline our vehicle uses.
You can get many more miles to the gallon if you do the following:
5-Drive the Speed Limit – In addition to being safer, driving the speed limit saves gas. How much? Every 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.10 per gallon for gasoline.
6-Don’t be a “Jack Rabbit” – Hopping in and out of traffic, speeding up, slowing down and weaving from one lane to the other wastes gas because all that acceleration and deceleration uses the engine so inefficiently. Plus, it doesn’t really shave that many minutes off your arrival time.
7-Plan Your Route – People waste a lot of gas taking the long way to their destination or not knowing where they’re going in the first place. Use Waze or the GPS device on your phone or in your car to find the shortest route. When possible, travel during non-rush hour.
8-Stop Idling – “Idling” – when you sit in your car with the gear in “park” and the engine running, going nowhere – is another word for wasting gas. Just. Don’t. Do. It. You use a lot more gasoline idling than if you turn the car off for a couple of minutes then on when you’re ready to give. Skip long drive-through lines. If you go to pick someone up, turn off the engine while you wait for them to come out.
Focus on Your Vehicle – Maintain the engine, tires, and air filters to improve fuel efficiency.
9-Change Your Oil and Get a Tune Up – Improve gas mileage by an average of 4.1 percent by maintaining your vehicle in top condition. That may include changing the air filters and replacing the spark plugs.
10-Pump Up Your Tires – You can beat higher gas prices and improve gas mileage by around 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper PSI. If you don’t know what your PSI is, you can find it on the inside of the car’s front door.
Need a gauge to check your tire pressure? Here are some good ones.
11-Remove the Roof Rack and Extra Weight in the Trunk – A roof rack creates wind resistance, which means your car needs more gas to move forward.
Extra weight in the trunk also puts more strain on the engine to do its job.
Don’t treat your trunk like a storage facility, and don’t leave the roof rack on if you’re not using it.
No matter what the price of gas is, burning it is like burning money (except it has a much bigger impact on climate change).
Hurricane Harvey has reminded us just how dependent on gas we can be if we don’t get smart about how we use it.