Saving Money On Gas
Can You Save With These 3 Alternative Fuels?
As the cost of a gallon of gasoline tops four dollars, researchers are scrambling to come up with a viable fuel alternative that’s cheaper and readily available. Three of these include: Biodiesel, Electricity, and Ethanol.
Biodiesel is a renewable fuel produced by a variety of vegetable oils and animal fats. It can be used in a pure form or blended with other products. Biodiesel is clean burning, non toxic and biodegradable.
It’s also less combustible and relatively easy to produce domestically and can even be made at home but this is not recommended. If strict guidelines are not followed it could damage an expensive diesel engine. It’s safe to handle, store and transport making it very desirable from a security and health standpoint. The U. S. biodiesel industry currently is very small but growing rapidly.
Electricity can be used to power pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Electric vehicles (EVs) work by storing energy in batteries and powering the wheels by an electric motor. Storage capacity and distance are limited. Some have on board chargers and others require a plug-in.
These vehicles are small but quiet and have no tail pipe emissions. They’re mostly used for neighborhood commuting, light hauling and delivery with a maximum speed of 35 mph. Batteries have to be replaced about every four years or 20,000 miles.
No major auto manufacturer has yet begun producing a total electric vehicle saying the demand isn’t there. But some small independent manufacturers have found a niche market and increasing demand.
Ethanol is a renewable fuel made from a variety of plants called biomass. In the U. S., ethanol is primarily made from corn but in Brazil they use sugar cane. It contains the same chemical compound found in alcohol.
Research is continuing into Cellulosic Ethanol Feedstock. This includes making the fuel from agricultural residue such as wheat straw and leaves, forestry wastes such as wood chips and sawdust and even plant derived household garbage together with waste paper products.
Grasses are now also being grown for ethanol production. Benefits include total manufacture domestically, low greenhouse emissions and creating jobs in depressed employment sectors.
A gallon of pure ethanol contains 34% less energy than a gallon of gas and gets lower gas mileage. It can only be used in flex fuel vehicles but is usually priced cheaper in order to compete with higher priced gasoline.
The U. S. Department of Energy says these three fuels increase our energy security, improve public health and our environment. Studies estimate that ethanol and other biofuels could reduce more than 30% of gas demand in the United States by the year 2030. Usually, when demand drops, so do prices.
Change Your Habits and Lower Your Gas Expenses
Old habits are hard to break. We get used to doing things a certain way and we’re not interested in changing no matter what. But with gasoline exceeding four dollars a gallon we’re rethinking our old driving habits to see if we can cut down on fuel consumption.
Fuel efficiency can be done in a number of ways. If we can just add a mile or two per gallon here and another there it will add up to significant savings over a period of time. Oil is a non-renewable resource and when we save on gas, it helps us with our reduced dependency on foreign oil. Over 50% of our gas comes from foreign lands!
Many of our bad old habits can be logged under one heading: Drive Sensibly. Avoid aggressive driving. In other words steer clear of rapid acceleration and quick braking. This alone can lower gas mileage up to 33%.
Of course you don’t speed. Do you? Speeders rarely get to their destination much earlier than law abiders and waste a lot more gas. Gas usage goes up considerably at speeds over 60 mph. For each 5 mph your drive over 60 you can add an additional 30 cents a gallon to your bill.
When you’re on the highway, use cruise control, which helps maintain a constant speed. Use the highest gear possible and overdrive gears if you have them. The faster an engine is turning the more gas you’re using. Pay attention to your tachometer. Plus, a slower turning engine means less friction and engine wear.
Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. It doesn’t get much worse than that. If you’re stopped for a train or backed up in a fast food take out line or waiting for a drive thru bank teller stop your engine if you’re going to be idling for more than 30 seconds. The bigger your vehicle the more gas you’re using even when idling. It costs less to restart than idle.
Turn off the air conditioning. It may get hot but try opening a window and breathe in the fresh air. An air conditioner can lower your mileage by two to three miles per gallon.
Is this trip necessary? Don’t drive until you have several errands or appointments to combine. Avoid doing these errands during peak rush times. If possible, and the distance is short, try walking or riding a bicycle.
Know where you’re going before you start out. Don’t drive around looking for something. I’m afraid the good old days of dragging Main Street with friends are gone. Now, it’s called car-pooling and friends who share the gas bill or drive next time. Public transportation is also a good option. Changing bad driving habits doesn’t cost you a thing and will pay you big dividends in fuel economy and saving money.
What Is Hypermiling?
Wayne Gerdes is credited with creating the term “hypermiling” as a conscious way to squeeze the most miles per gallon in fuel economy for any vehicle. The goal for drivers is to meet (or even exceed) the mileage of a comparable size hybrid vehicle.
If the driver happens to own a hybrid, then the challenge is to exceed the EPA ratings for that vehicle with smart driving tactics. Either way, it’s a game and you win at the pump. Before you can improve your gas mileage, you have to know what your current miles per gallon are.
If you have a new car, then you can find that information on the sticker. Even so, you need to test the mileage both in the city and on the highway as these differ for every vehicle.
You also need to have your car serviced and the motor tuned. A car that’s struggling to perform due to engine problems or a clogged fuel filter isn’t likely to get good gas mileage no matter how carefully you drive.
Any motivated driver can learn basic concepts of hypermiling. Even learning a few techniques can improve the mileage for most any vehicle. Beginners to hypermiling can start by not being heavy footed on the accelerator.
Avoid racing to the stoplight and let the car glide to a stop. It takes less power to stop from lower speeds than to suddenly hit the brake – plus this means less wear on your tires. Don’t gun the motor when sitting at a traffic light.
Use the cruise control, even in town. This isn’t just for highway driving, it’s also the way to drive a consistent speed (and avoid a traffic ticket). If you have enough distance, you can take off the cruise control and let the car decelerate toward the stoplight.
Practice this maneuver around a quiet neighborhood until you can do it smoothly. Speaking of smooth, a hypermiling driver is a calm driver. Letting your temper flare in traffic and driving aggressively wastes fuel as well as increasing the risk of accidents.
Aggressive drivers press their brakes three to four times more frequently than calm drivers. When traffic flow slows, hypermilers drop down to the lower speed knowing that moving consistently, even though it’s slower, is really the fastest and most fuel efficient way to move thought the traffic jam and get to work without a stress headache.
Perhaps the great virtue of hypermilers is that they are attentive to their driving. They’re thinking of ways to drive that makes the most of every gallon of gas. Whether they’re hypermiling because of sticker shock at the pump or because it’s a personal challenge, the reward is worth the effort. We all win when each person does something to conserve energy.
Follow These 7 Hypermiler Tips and Save
Extreme high prices sometimes call for extreme measures to cope. One measure gaining attention is called Hypermiling and in essence means rebelling against high gas prices. In Europe it’s called Ecodriving. Some hypermilers claim to get 100 mpg and 1,500 miles on one tank of gas. They do this by squeezing the maximum mileage out of every drop of gasoline.
Some measures are extreme but others are common sense driving such as accelerating gradually, driving slowly and avoiding unnecessary braking. You’re also urged to keep your vehicle in tip top condition with regular oil and air filter changes and using proper weight oil. Oil that’s too heavy drags the engine down. Properly inflate tires. Driving with flatter tires means more drag.
- More extreme methods suggest shifting to neutral when possible and letting the inertia carry the car. Coast to red lights and off ramps. The sooner you get to the red light the longer you’ll sit idling. Note that driving in neutral in some states is illegal. This could be dangerous, especially in heavy traffic.
- Drive the speed limit or slower. Gas mileage increases significantly as you slow down.
Sure, other drivers may honk and even give you hand gestures but smile because you’re saving gas.
Practice ridge riding which is hugging the right side white line on the highway. This will provide you with the shortest route and keep you from weaving on the roadway. You drive farther when you weave and use more gas.
- Plan ahead and choose the smoothest route with the fewest traffic signals and stop signs. Also avoid construction zones and traffic tie-ups. Keep an ear to the radio for traffic advisories. Sometimes the longer route may be the best if the road is smooth and with fewer stops.
- Build up speed when you see a hill ahead and maintain your speed as you climb the slope. As you reach the crest slip it into neutral and coast down.
- The more options your car has the more power it takes to move it. Avoid air conditioning and other power equipment. Open a window if you must but only a crack. Open windows create a wind drag. If you have a standard transmission shift to the highest gear as soon as you can.
- Hypermilers have learned to be patient. You don’t have to be the first to arrive and you don’t have to catch up with that car up ahead.
While you’re doing what you can to save gas, you may be irritating the more aggressive driver, so remember to be courteous. Pull over and let them pass when safe to do so. Hypermiling is best with hybrids and small cars but can work with SUVs and larger cars too. Even if you utilize just a few of these methods your bank account will thank you.
Learn How to Drive and Burn Less Gas
You’ve probably been driving for many years and when you learned how to drive the price of gas was no doubt considerably cheaper than it is now. You might remember as a teen driver, it was cool to drive fast, peel out, stop suddenly and just drive for entertainment.
Those habits were excused because you were young and the cost of gas was nothing compared to costs today. Almost everyone drove impatiently and in a hurry to get wherever it was they were going if they were going anywhere at all. You didn’t mind being called the one with the lead foot.
We’re being forced to learn how to drive all over again because of the high cost of gas and to make an effort to save at the pump. Buying gas is something we must do all too often, sometimes weekly to get us to work and other necessary destinations. It’s not a bill that just comes around monthly such as utilities. It has become a constant strain on our cash flow.
Perhaps the best lesson to be learned is to drive calmly, slow down and be patient. Drive as though there is a cup of hot coffee on your dashboard and you’re doing your best not to spill it. This will not only save gas but be safer as well.
The faster you drive the more fuel you’re using. 55 mph is the optimum speed on the highway. Authorities are again considering making 55 mph required on all highways in an effort to mandate fuel conservation. If they do that, you’ll be well ahead of the game. On some highways in west Texas you can drive legally 80 mph. Gas mileage drops dramatically at this speed.
Don’t drive erratically. Strive for smooth starts and stops. Pick a lane and stay in it without weaving in and out of traffic. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you can cut the number of miles driven by only 5% it can save you up to $100 or more a year. Doesn’t sound like much, but it can mean a free tank of gas or two.
Travel lightly. Do away with the roof top luggage rack and save another 5% by reducing the air drag and weight. Make sure your trunk is empty too or the extra weight will add 2% to your gas bill for each 100 pounds. Small things add up quickly. Make sure they add up to your benefit.
Perhaps when you were young and learning to drive your mom or dad instructed you to let the car engine idle and warm up for a few minutes before driving. This is not needed now. Late model cars are designed to be driven almost immediately with warm up time cut to only a few seconds.
Gas up in the coolest part of the day. When gas is hot the volume increases and could leak out or spill over the top. Use the lowest octane your vehicle can tolerate without pinging. Stay cool and get your money’s worth.
Trade In Your Gas Guzzler for a Hybrid
We’re all looking for more ways to save on fuel these days as oil supplies diminish and gasoline prices continue to soar. Indications are that the price at the pump will remain at current levels or rise even more in the near and long term. So we seek ways to drive less and get better mileage.
Perhaps the best way to save gas is to get rid of that old heavy heap that guzzles gas and the money right out of your pocketbook. One of the most popular options is driving a hybrid vehicle.
A hybrid combines the benefits of both gas and electric. With these two sources of power they can be configured to obtain different objectives to suit your driving needs. These configurations range from fuel economy to increased power.
The hybrid concept is not new. Liquid fuel and electric hybrids date back to the late 1800’s. Of course, fuel economy wasn’t necessary back then. Even today, drivers have been reluctant to switch until gas topped four dollars a gallon.
This caught the attention of most major car manufacturers with hybrids now available from GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Lexus, Ford and Mercury.
Hybrids save in ways other than engine economy. The hybrid recaptures energy normally wasted during braking with a process called regenerative braking. Plus, it shuts down the gas or diesel engine while stopped or when coasting.
A sleek automobile is not only pleasing to the eye, but with aerodynamic styling, it creates less drag, hence less fuel is used. Hybrids also use an improved design of tires, which creates less drag as well.
How much gas can you save by driving a hybrid? Well, that depends on the one you choose. Mileage varies just like a pure gasoline model. It can range from 28 to 45 miles per gallon.
As an example, assuming you drive 15,000 miles a year and gas is a little over $4 a gallon, only 10 extra miles per gallon can save you about a thousand dollars a year. Do the math and that’s over five thousand dollars in only five years. With most hybrids you can expect to do better. You may also qualify for a federal tax savings.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the annual fuel cost of a hybrid vehicle that gets 45 mpg at $1,315. If the car you’re driving now gets only half that you’re spending twice as much.
If you’ve delayed switching to a hybrid because of size, larger models are now being offered. But, as the size goes up gas savings go down. The cost of replacing the batteries if needed is also being reduced. Compare your needs with the benefits and a hybrid may be in your future.
Save Money on Gas with a Hybrid – If You Can Find One!
Hybrid drivers quickly went from quirky to trendy as gas prices hit new highs. Not only do these vehicles save gas, but they’re stylish cars from major manufacturers that you know and trust.
The design of a hybrid car also contributes to fuel economy. The engine is smaller and lighter than that of a conventional engine so hybrids requires less fuel to accelerate, idle or move up inclines.
Some hybrid vehicles also have an electric motor or battery backup to use in traffic when a kick of extra power is necessary. With that backup, the hybrid is as flexible in getting around traffic as a conventional engine.
To reward buyers for choose hybrid vehicles, the US Government awards tax credit. The amount of the credit ranges from $400 to over $3,000 based on government issued calculation tables.
These tables consider the fuel economy and potential energy conservation for each hybrid vehicle based on type and weight. The better the hybrid performs on these fuel saving ratings, the larger the tax credit for the buyer. It’s like getting free money to offset your car cost.
What’s hot in hybrids is the water conversion car. This type of hybrid runs on gas and water. While gas is the primary fuel, the water is used in a vaporization process to increase fuel efficiency.
That means more miles per gallon, which reduces gas consumption, which saves money. You’ll notice the smug expression on the face of hybrid drivers to glide past as you’re pumping more gas into your old car.
If you can’t dump the car you have for a hybrid, you might still be able to get the benefit of hybrid technology. It’s possible to get a water energy conversion kit attached to many vehicles.
If you’re a good weekend mechanic, then you might do it yourself. But you’re safer having it installed by a mechanic who also knows how to interface this conversion kit with the electrical and computer control systems of your car.
Unless it’s accurately installed, you won’t get the full benefit of water conversion and you might compromise another system in your car. Hydrogen conversion kits sell for under a hundred dollars up to thousands.
You’ll need to get estimates from qualified mechanics for the installation price. You can also check with your dealer for available conversions options. Since several major auto brands sell both conventional and hybrid vehicles, you can check with the dealer for possible conversion kits for your conventional vehicle.
At least you’ll know that the mechanics doing the work are familiar with this process. The hydrogen power option not only saves gas, but also does its part to improve the environmental air quality.
Whether you drive a hybrid or a conventional car with hydrogen conversion, your car makes the most of that power combination and emits only harmless water vapor into the air.
5 Ways to Save at the Pump
Saving money at the gas pump sounds like an impossibility, but don’t give up just yet! The best way to save money on gas starts with changing your driving habits before you arrive at the pump.
Hypermilers get criticized for radical gas saving maneuvers, like shutting off the engine and turning without power. You don’t have to do anything that’s potentially unsafe to save gas. These are simple, safe ways to conserve gas and save money:
- Avoid idling with the motor on. If you dash into a convenience store, don’t leave the motor running. While waiting to pick up the children at school, don’t idle in the long pickup line. Park the car and walk over to pick up the children. You’ll also get some exercise.
- Identify the shortest, most efficient route to work, school and grocery store. The main street may look shorter but not if there’s several traffic lights. A back road, even at a slower but consistent speed might be the best gas saving route.
Plan multiple stops along the way. Think twice before jumping into the car to drive across town for a $5 savings. With gas prices so high, you can spend more driving to get a sale price than in what you actually save.
- Slide, don’t slam. Whenever possible, take your foot off the accelerator and let the car gradually decelerate before reaching a stop sign or red light. Let gravity work in your favor instead of racing to the light only to slam on the brake. That wastes gas and wears out your tires faster.
- A well-maintained car operates more efficiently on less gas. Keep your engine tuned, oil changed and fluids at proper levels. Something as simple as keeping the proper type and amount of oil can improve operational efficiency.
If the engine strains to function, get an engine diagnostic scan to make certain that things like the valve timing, fuel pump and ignition are operating properly. Spending money on regular tune-ups is cheaper in the long run than the extra cost of gas plus wear and tear on the vehicle.
- Drive gently. Changing your driving habits is the cheapest and easiest way to improve fuel economy for any type of vehicle. Don’t race away from the traffic light – instead, make a gradual acceleration. When going downhill, let gravity instead of gas power the descent. Reduce your use of the air conditioner. Open the windows to let out hot air before turning on the air conditioner.
Remember, the next time you fill up at the pump, make note of the amount of gas, price per gallon and current vehicle mileage. You need to monitor the gas usage to evaluate which gas saving techniques work best for your vehicle.
You can also watch the prices of gas stations on your regular driving route. The same brand name station on the main street or highway entrance is usually more expensive per gallon than the station that’s a few blocks off the main route.
How Can a Gas Mileage Device Help Me Save Money?
If you passed by those “fuel booster” products before, chances are you’re now stopping to take a serious look. But which products really make a difference and which are just useless ways to spend more money?
Here are some of the new devices that claim gas mileage improvement:
Fuel Additives have long been on the market at both automotive stores and discount retailers. Prices vary, as do the claims of success. There are brand name fuel additives as well as those created by entrepreneurs. Whatever you buy, just keep this in mind – once it gets into the fuel tank, it better be safe or you’re in for a monster repair bill!
Oil Additives improve the flow of the oil, which is important for smooth engine functioning. Additives are designed to improve the lubrication.
Fuel Magnets are something people swear by. Magnetic energy is used for healing the body so why not the gas tank? The claim is that the magnets help reduce the jumble of fuel molecules so that the fuel flow is more efficient. Fuel magnets are cheap and easy to install, but you have to decide whether you see any notable improvement in fuel economy.
Vortex Generators sound like science fiction but are actually methods to inject air. The theory is that by making a small wind tunnel effect, the fuel will mix better and burn more efficiently. Air injection products come in a variety of price ranges and complexity with unproven results.
Mixture enhancers are attached between the intake manifold and the carburetor. This device works by improving the air to fuel mixture with vaporization.
Fuel temperature devices intercept the fuel on the way to the carburetor. The device either heats or cools the fuel, which is supposed to expand it. Some of these have been EPA tested but many are not tested. Another approach to altering the fuel delivery is by adding metals. The theory is that these loose metallic pieces increase the ionization of the fuel.
Acetone can be used as a fuel additive. Acetone is found in paints, pesticides, lacquers and nail polish removers. It’s cheap and accessible in drug stores or home improvement stores. A little dab is all that’s needed, with only a small amount added to the gas tank. The claim is that acetone improves vaporization so that the fuel is fully combustible.
Attachments and accessories of all types are hitting the market as eager inventors try to produce the next hottest fuel saving device for gas price weary consumers. Be careful of devices that alter your engine function or pour inside the gas tank or oil reservoir. Don’t rush to save a few bucks on gas only to spend hundreds on repair.
Why Are Gas Prices So High?
Be honest, when you read an article about national gas prices and find that your costs are less than another region, you feel smug. It’s a short lived joy because the same article probably told you that gas is less than a quarter a gallon in Venezula.
Chances are, you’ve never seen gas that cheap in your lifetime. At this point, you’d be grateful to fill up your tank and get change back from a hundred dollar bill! Officially, every government blames the world crude oil prices.
That’s the price per barrel than OPEC controls. As with any monopoly, when you control most of the supply, you get to control the prices. To drive up the price even more, OPEC sets “output restrictions” which means they decide to produce less as a way to force the prices up to whatever level they want.
It’s like being able to write your own paycheck and forcing your boss to sign it. As for oil production in the United States, there’s a battle between breathing and driving. Oil companies blame the EPA Tier 2 regulations on low sulfur fuels as a factor in price increases.
The purpose of the new regulations is an air quality improvement nationwide. So it becomes a chicken versus the egg issue. Do we care more about breathing or driving? Another side of that problem is that U.S. refineries aren’t at the same capacity as prior to Katrina and the hurricane battering of a few years ago. Regardless of the environmental impact, the refining capacity is lower.
Demand for gas worldwide is increasing. U.S. drivers aren’t the only consumers to satisfy. India and China are rapidly becoming major gas consumers. These new gas users compete for OPEC’s “black gold” which makes the market more challenging for buyers and more lucrative for suppliers.
Some oil producing countries aren’t under OPEC control, but are subject to internal problems. Political instability in Venezuela and Nigera can interrupt oil production and exports without warning.
Like any commodity, gas prices are driven by the supply and demand ratio. When demand is great and supply is smaller, prices increase. Since OPEC can control a substantial portion of the world’s oil supply, they have the ability to work this ratio to their benefit.
Consumers can take back the power and save money by reducing demand. As gas prices soar, that’s beginning to happen. Developing alternative fuels is an important way to change from primarily fuel users to major fuel producers.
Back in the 70s when OPEC learned how to flex its economic muscles, U.S. consumers demanded alternative fuels. A few years later when the crisis eased and we got accustomed to higher prices, the idea waned.
Once again, we’re discovering that the need for alternative fuels is an important way to reduce dependency on OPEC oil. Alternative fuel made from corn or other agricultural products not only can reduce fuel prices but also provides a new market for America’s farmers. With alternative fuels, farmers could become the new OPEC, providing fuel to an increasing world market.