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Easing the Pain at the Pump

With gas prices higher than they've been in two years and anticipated to go even higher in the days and weeks to come, we are all looking for ways to help ease the pain we are feeling at the pump. We could all start riding bicycles, or we can make some smaller changes that will help us to save some money and avoid turning our vehicles into tacky “lawn art”.

There are the obvious options like carpooling and mass transit. Both are great options if they are feasible. Unfortunately, mass transit is not an option in smaller towns and carpooling is not always practical.  So let’s examine some other options to help us through the duration of extraordinary gas prices.

We can all drive a little smarter, and by driving smarter help to increase our fuel efficiency and save at the pump. Driving smarter would require such simple changes as combining errands and planning your trips to avoid going back and forth across town. By cutting down on the number of times we go out to run errands, we will save gas and   instead of going to the grocery across town today and the dry cleaners tomorrow, can you wait and do both in the same trip? If you can combine the trips, you will save gas.

How about slowing down? For every 5 MPH over the speed limit you are driving, you are effectively increasing the cost of fuel for your vehicle by 20 cents per gallon. Additionally, drivers who push their vehicles to the limit accelerating as fast as possible and them slamming on the brakes at each intersection are decreasing their fuel efficiency by an average of 10%. Give yourself a couple of extra minutes to commute and slow down it’ll save you money.

Vehicle maintenance will also help you to save some money. Engine maintenance is a key component to maximizing your car’s fuel efficiency, make certain to adhere to recommended tune-ups and routine maintenance schedules such as oil changes. Tire pressure is also part of vehicle maintenance; with your tires filled to the correct air pressure and maintained at that pressure, you will find that you have better gas mileage and the benefit of better performance from your vehicle.  You can locate the recommended pressure for your tires in your vehicle owner’s manual and remember - tire pressure should be checked monthly.

Technology is also trying to land a hand, via the internet, to help you save some money when filling up.  Websites such as www.GasBuddy.com and www.GasPriceWatch.com monitor gas prices across the country and will tell you where, in your town, you can find the lowest cost per gallon.

In short, if you can utilize carpooling or mass transit you should definitely do so , however if you can’t by using the ideas in this article and employing others that can be found at the website for the Alliance to Save Energy (www.ase.org) and other websites like smartmoney.com to help ease the pain of your summer commute.
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