Fighting high gas prices
Recently a friend asked me, "Would you like to consider carpooling with me? Gas prices are so high now."
Without hesitation, I said, "Yes, let's do that."
A few days later, on May 22, we started carpooling to work.
We both live in the same subdivision in Woodbury and work in St. Paul. Our office buildings are within walking distance. Carpooling makes perfect sense to me.
Carpooling is not new to me. I have done that before. I am interested in carpooling no matter what the gas price is, because it's good for my pocket and for the environment. I wish I didn't have to drive at all and could take a bus to work without too much hassle.
In case you are concerned about emergencies, there is a free reward program by Metro Transit for commuters who ride the bus or train, carpool, vanpool, bicycle or walk at least three days a week to work or school called "Guaranteed Ride Home."
Once you register, you will get two coupons every six months. You can use the coupons for cab fare reimbursement, up to $25, or for emergency bus or train fare.
For more information or to register, visit www.metrotransit.org/riderPrograms/grh.asp
Reducing driving by carpooling is one of the best ways to save gas. But if you can't do that, there are still plenty of other little things you can do to reduce your gas expenses.
The important thing to remember is being mindful of little things that you can achieve without any efforts once they become habits.
Here are a few things I do or don't do in regard to driving which I think have an impact on gas expenses.
A little-known secret
Every workday when I get off I-94 at Woodbury Drive, the first thing I usually pay a little attention to is the gas price billboards on both sides of the streets.
If the gas price goes up and my tank is half empty, I turn right to Sam's Club gas station to fill it up. If gas price goes down, I will wait a day or two to fill my tank.
The gas price change at Sam's Club is always behind other gas stations in the area. If you know how to time the market, you can sometimes save a quarter a gallon.
Obviously I am not the only one who knows this little secret. Every time there is a big jump in gas price, Sam's Club gas stations is busier than usual.
Within the limit
I stay within the speed limit and don't drive fast. That's why I have never received a speeding ticket in my life. Driving too fast is not only dangerous, it also consumes more fuel.
Within the range of normal highway speeds, each 10 miles per hour faster will reduce your fuel economy by 15 to 20 percent.
I can never understand those aggressive drivers who race toward the red light only to stop abruptly and then accelerate rapidly once red changes to green.
I avoid hard braking and excessive acceleration. Rapid braking and rapid acceleration can reduce gasoline mileage by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds, according to published reports.
Because I flow with the traffic with fewer complete stops, I sometimes end up ahead of those aggressive drivers who have passed me earlier.
I think slow and steady wins the race. I am not only ahead, but also I don't do a lot of damage to my car by being gentle with it and I don't waste a great amount of fuel due to aggressive driving.
Time the light
I try to time the traffic lights and my driving so that I can avoid a lot of stop-and-go driving and can flow with the traffic.
I take my foot off of the pedal early when I see a red light or traffic backup ahead and need to stop or slow down. I try timing it so that I can slow down or come to the stop without having to use the brakes.
Avoid getting stuck in traffic
If possible, go to work either really early or late to avoid rush hour. Idling and slow driving wastes a lot of gas and precious time.
Don't carry extra, unnecessary weight in your car. All unnecessary items that add weight should be removed. The heavier the load, the more gas it takes to drive the car.
Other good practices include keeping oil changed and the filters clean so the engine runs well, keeping tires at the proper air pressure, using air conditioning and heating as little as possible, using cruise control, etc.
In the last few months, gas prices kept climbing up. To cope with the slow economy and high inflation, many people have had to cut back on their living expenses. More are trying to find ways to make their dollar stretch.
I hope these ideas will inspire you to make big or little changes in your driving habits.