We’re Using Less Gas! – How to Save on Gas

by heather

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I was doing research for a client last week and came across some stats from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that made me want to cheer.

What’s the news?

Well, thanks to the recession and the growing awareness of global warming, we’re driving less this year. A lot less.

The EIA predicts that once 2009 is finished, we’ll have consumed 4% less oil than we did the year before. I know 4% doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is. 4% means we’re consuming 800,000 fewer barrels per day than we did last year.

And the EIA reports that in the first six months of 2009, our consumption dropped by a whopping 6.3%, which equals 1.25 million barrels per day less than last year.

That is a ton of oil we’re saving, just by making small changes in our routines and cutting back to save money.

And it’s not just oil we’ve cut back on. Coal consumption fell by 11% in the first half of 2009. That equals a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Yahoo!

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly…

So, that’s the good news. The bad news is that the EIA is projecting that 2010 is going to show an increase in our oil consumption by 1.4%. That’s 260,000 barrels per day. And our coal consumption? It’s projected to increase by at least 2%.

They don’t report a reason why our consumption is going to go up, but it’s pretty easy to figure out. After all, it’s human nature. The economic crisis is passing, and the world didn’t collapse. Many people are going to go back to their old ways of bumping up the heat and driving more.

Not. Good.

I know it’s hard to stay consistent about consuming less.  And I’m right there in it too; I’m fortunate I don’t have to commute to go to work, but I do like to drive to other cities to do fun things. Lately, I’ve been going through quite a bit of gas, and I feel bad about it. I know that last year, I wasn’t doing near as much driving as I have been the past couple of months.

I need to be more aware of every mile I’m driving, and still work just as hard as I did last year to cut back on how much gas I’m using. I hadn’t been thinking much about it until this morning when I filled up my car. I’d only filled it up the week before, and here I was doing it again.

Oops.

Gas Saving Tips

So, how can we all use less gas?

Here are some handy dandy tips I found online:

  • Drive Slow- Edmunds.com reports that slower driving uses an average of 14% less gas. So, go the speed limit. EcoDrivingUSA reports that for every 5 mph you go over 60 mph, you pay an equivalent of 20 cents extra per gallon.
  • Don’t Gun The Gas- Pressing down the gas pedal floods your engine with gas so your car can move. Elementary, dear Watson! But when you accelerate quickly then your engine needs more gas. CNN Money recommends not pressing the gas pedal down more than one inch unless you really have to. And, Edmunds reports that aggressive driving (accelerating quickly and rapid braking) uses up to 37% more gas than driving like a calm adult.
  • Call the Store- Are you driving out to Home Depot to pick up some chalkboard paint? Hitting Target for a new furnace air filter? If you’re going to a store to pick up a specific item, call ahead to make sure they have it in stock. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to drive around looking for something when the first store I went to didn’t have it. You can save time, gas, and stress simply by using the phone first.
  • Use Cruise Control- CNN Money reports that using cruise control can save you up to 14% on your gas. Why? Because cruise control naturally helps you avoid going faster. And the faster you go, the less gas mileage you get.
  • Save Gas By Cleaning Out Your Trunk- If you’re hauling a bunch of junk around in your car, then keep in mind that you’re using extra gas to cart around the extra weight. EcoDrivingUSA estimates that for every 100 lbs. your car has to carry around extra, it uses 2% more fuel. It pays to have a clean car.

Save Up To 40% By Eco-Driving

According to the Wall Street Journal, Eco-Driving is a relatively new term for a driving technique that’s starting to gain steam.

What is it?

Well, WSJ says it’s a technique that “blends the skills of a racecar driver with the proverbial grandmother’s pace”. And, you can improve your car’s gas mileage by 20%-40%.

That’s pretty significant.

Here’s a summary of what Eco-Driving entails:

  • Maintain a steady momentum, like you would on a leisurely bike ride
  • Accelerate very gradually
  • Coast whenever possible
  • Constantly adjust the car’s speed to minimize the need to stop
  • Stay aware of traffic patterns in front of you so you don’t have to slam the brakes

Want to find out more specific information on how to start Eco-Driving? Then check out EcoDrivingUSA.com. They’ve got some great information posted on their site about how to get started.

Last Word…

What about you? Have you found yourself driving more now that things seem to be settling down with the economy, or have you stayed consistent with using less?

I’m definitely going to work harder at going out less and combining my trips, and I’m going to start practicing some of those Eco-Driving techniques. EcoDrivingUSA reports that the average person can use 20% less gas just by changing their habits, and that’s pretty huge!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Shona September 23, 2009 at 9:52 am

I don’t know how this happened, but for the first time since before I could drive I have a job that I can walk to. I use my car maybe twice a week and every trip is well planned. Once a month I drive to the big city with a friend to do the monthly grocery shopping + some months she drives her biofuel car. Being that I drive so little my car ins. is next to nothing, I am considered a “pleasure” driver, not using my car for work and not driving over 6,000 miles a year.
We both work for non-profits + live very simply, but even if my salary doubled tomorrow, I have never been happier and would not change a thing.

Zach Hudson September 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm

One of the main reasons our nation is using less oil is because of the recession the economy is going through. The entire US economic model is based on consumerism (i.e. consumption). More than likely the EIA is suggesting a growth in oil usage in 2010 because they also anticipate the economy to begin recovering. If and when the economy begins to pick-up oil/energy consumption will also increase.

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