Using Less Fuel

As gas prices begin to climb once again more and more pressure is put upon our budget.  While gas prices vary across the country the general trend is UP!  In my area of the country gas prices have climbed nearly 20 cents since the summer.  There is little one can do about the price at the pump...but the really big impact on your wallet actually comes from reducing the amount of gas you consume. Of course the first thing that anyone will recommend is that you get rid of that SUV and get a hybrid. Unfortunately that is easier said then done.    If we are in the market for a new vehicle switching the type of vehicle is feasible, but for most of us we must stick with the vehicles that we have, not to mention the fact that purchasing a new vehicle to save money on gas may actually cost our budget more in the long run.

So here are the ten things that I have found do-able to reduce my gas consumption.

1. Walk more!
I know it is pretty obvious, but it is amazing how many people I see driving a block or two. My neighbour drives to the corner to pick up the mail every day. I see others driving around the corner to get a coffee or slurpee from 7-11. The gas savings on a single trip are not huge, but overtime add up. TFC had two people track their trips over a one week period. During that week the two drivers combined for a total of 32 trips less than 2 km. The total km in these trips was 58 km. Multiply that over 52 weeks and you have over 3,000 km. Now you have gas savings! Not to mention the health benefits you would get from walking! I made this shift years ago and included walking 5 km to work, each way, 5 days a week...but no, it wasn't up hill both directions in waist deep snow!

2. Plan your Trips. In a typical week most people visit a variety of different places by car. Grocery stores, video stores, friends, restaurants, big box stores and of course gas stations all seem to find their way into our weekly driving routine. It is no surprise that these trips can really rack up the km and the gas consumption! If I were to visit each of those above locations on individual trips I would rack up 70km, and I live in a small city. If I plan my trip I can reduce this down to 15 km. Again spread that over 52 weeks and you once again close in on 3,000 km per year.

3. Slow down. Ok, I am not endorsing the Sunday Driver routine, but you really have to balance the speed you travel with the amount of time you actually save by going that fast. For example, the trip from my small city to the large city shopping area is about 25 km. Travelling at 100km/hr the trip takes about 15 minutes. Traveling at 110 km/hr will burn more gas yet only save you about a minute. Bump that up to 120 km/h and you save 3 minutes. I am not sure that I have very many places to go that 3 minutes will change my life. Travelling at 100 km/h vs. 120 km/h will result in a 21% savings in gas consumption. As and added benefit you may also avoid pricey speeding fines too! Source: CAA

4. Keep your car maintenance up to date. Sure it costs money to get a tune up, oil change and tire rotation, but those steps will translate into fuel savings. As an added bonus regular car maintenance may also prevent expensive repair bills down the road too!

5. Check your tire pressure. This one can be tricky. My vehicle has four different air pressure recommendations for the tires. The operators manual suggests two different pressures for the front and back, while the tires recommend a third pressure for the tires. What do I do? According to go with the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer as long as it does not exceed the maximum pressure for the tires. Properly inflated tires can save you about 6% on your fuel bill.

6. Use Cruise Control. Just like driving too fast burns more fuel so does driving with a variable speed. It takes less energy to maintain a speed then it does to get a vehicle moving at that speed in the first place. Driving at a constant 100 km/h as opposed to a speed fluctuating by 10 km/h will save 5% on your fuel bill. Also while on the topic of tire pressure, don't forget proper rotation and alignment. That can add an addition 10% fuel savings. Source:

7. Remove Ski Racks and Roof Boxes.
Many of us drive around with assorted roof racks and storage boxes on our roofs left from winter ski trips or summer holidays. While these devices can be useful and necessary, driving around with them empty produces drag and reduces your fuel efficiency. While removing them may take a few minutes, it is time well spent if you are worried about your gas savings!

8. Avoid Quick Starts and Sudden Stops. While it may be tempting to open up all 6 cylinders on your V-6 MiniVan and blow away everyone off the line as the light turns green, but looking cool by doing this will burn up to 20% more fuel then simply starting out at
a normal pace. Keep the 'burn it off the line' strategy for when you get caught picking your nose or singing to Brittney Spears at the Red Light! Source: SmartCommute

9. Turn Off the Air!
It is now second nature for drivers to jump into their cars and immediately crank on the air conditioner full blast and get that vehicle cooling. I even know a couple of people that use remote starters to cool down their vehicles before they even get outside. Driving with the Air Conditioning on can consume 20% more fuel. But what can you do instead? Try just opening the Fresh Air vent or opening the windows. While open windows will produce drag, other then the MythBusters flawed AC vs. Open Window testing, most official testing agencies have found that AC is a fuel eater. Ge
nerally speaking, for slower city style driving open windows are more efficient, but for highway driving AC will be the way to go to reduce the drag and of course increase the comfort of the ride! Source: Canadian Office of Energy Efficiency

10. Car Pool. Want to cut your fuel consumption in half? Or by three quarters? Try Car Pooling for that daily commute. It just makes sense if someone else is doing the driving you are saving gas! The more people that you have in your pool, the more savings you enjoy. Now with online Car Pool sites it is easier then ever to find people that live near you that are going close to where you are going. Try to find a carpool group that will work for you. I must admit I don't typically is a bit difficult to do when I walk to work every day. I do carpool when I have to travel 30 km each way to a monthly meeting. It isn't much, but I every bit counts. One caution for carpoolers. Make sure you don't get into the Starbuck's Carpool. Joining 3 other people in a carpool that stops for a daily $5 Latte may eat up all those gas savings!

Next Up: Sorting out Gas Station Incentives

Image credit: tdc Marketing and Management

New Years Resolutions!

Well, it is that time once again! The time that we all lay out what we will do this year and this time we mean it!

While New Year's Resolutions may not always work out, but they are a good start when trying to make changes in one's life. This year I have made 3 New Year's Resolutions that all relate to a frugal life!

1. Blogging - Chronicle my Frugal Journey on this blog as a way to motivate myself to continue to 'Frugalize' my life and to share the lessons I learn along the way. Many bloggers start out with good intentions and quickly lose interest in their blogs, I will work at ensuring I provide regular, reliable and relevant content to my readership! This blog serves a few purposes for me. It allows me to track and communicate my frugal progress, share my learning, and allow me to connect with other frugalers!

2. Frugality - I will continue to find more and more ways to continue to live more frugally, while not compromising the things I enjoy in life. Many people interpret fugality as being cheap or doing without things. I am willing to forgo some luxuries in life, but there are many things I won't give up, but I will work at finding ways to be more frugal about how I attain these items. A recent example is coffee. I love a couple cups of good coffee in the morning. I have a favourite brand and it isn't the cheap grocery store brand. I have tried cheaper brands, but they just don't cut it. So instead I found ways to be more frugal about how much I pay for that brand and how much I use/waste.

3. Decluttering - Clutter seems to be a challenge in everybody's life. We all have a room, or rooms full of STUFF. I believe that this clutter leads to inefficiencies that take a direct bite out of your monthly budget. Throughout this year I will create and implement (and share) a focussed decluttering program for my home (sheds included). The challenge will be to reduce the stuff I have...and find creative, inexpensive ways to store what I do 'need'!

4. Healthy Living - While I don't necessarily live an unhealthy life, I know that there are some things that I can...and to create a healthier life for myself.  During 2010 I will learn about steps I can take to live a healthier (and hopefully longer) life.  I will share this journey on this blog and hopefully get a little help from my friends along the way! 

Photo Credit: FreeImagesLive