If you travel by car for business or to commute to and from work, you are probably looking for ways to cut the costs of traveling. An article on eHow.com gives tips on how to maximize fuel efficiency when you travel. Here are a few tips from this article:

Plan the trip so as to avoid metropolitan-area rush hours when stop-and-go traffic will affect fuel efficiency.
Learn of, and plan around, areas of major highway construction. For unavoidable construction zones, plan the trip so as to avoid specific hours of construction.
Use cruise control to achieve further fuel efficiency.

Learning to be more aware of our fuel consumption can have a broader impact on the economy and the environment. The U.S. Department of Energy hosts a website, www.fueleconomy.gov, which provides a variety of articles and tools:

  • Why is fuel economy important? This section describes ways that your driving habits can help you save money, conserve resources and protect the environment.
  • Gas Mileage Tips includes statistics and chart examples of how much money you can save by driving sensibly, removing excess weight in your vehicle caused by carrying items you don’t need, and driving within the speed limit. For example, “…each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.”
  • Choosing a fuel-efficient vehicle: Choose your current vehicle by model year and manufacturer to see its fuel-efficiency rating. You can substitute your annual mileage and miles per gallon into the calculations. If you want to see how your vehicle compares to another, you can choose to do a ‘side-by-side comparison‘ of the two. For a comparison example, check out the Fuel Efficiency post on the Business in General blog.
  • Alternative Fuels: Thinking of buying a hybrid vehicle? See how it compares to other models. Pick the first vehicle based on year and model, choose to compare hybrids side by side.
  • Top 10 Green Car Upgrades: MSN Autos online included this page from Treehugger.com on their pick of the Top 10 upgrades car drivers can do to help improve their car’s fuel efficiency.

EXAMPLE: Even older-model cars (like my 15-year old Jeep Cherokee) will benefit from many of these suggestions. One that caught my eye was to remove unnecessary items from the car to reduce the overall weight. During the winter months in Oregon, I resort to carrying two 50-pound bags of rock salt in back to help load the rear tires (living by the lake produces several days of icy conditions for my commute).

The Gas Mileage Tips article estimates that carrying an extra 100 lbs. reduces miles per gallon by 2%. That means a drop from 21 mpg to approximately 20.5 mpg for my Jeep. Since I travel approximately 700 miles a month, that’s an extra gallon a month in gas to travel the same distance to and from work during the winter months. So, this winter I may consider storing the bags in the garage and only using them on the days I need, not for the entire winter. A simple change.

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