Saving Sanity… and Gas

This month I will have traveled by car every weekend. (One more trip next weekend.) Trips are anywhere from 150-300 miles one way. As I plug along, I, of course, notice the price of gas. It can range from 5 cents higher to 25 cents higher than where I live. It blows my mind. I’m spending money that I could use to buy shoes… or groceries. haha. Thankfully we seem to be in a location where our price per gallon is lower than the national average.

During the last trip I took in my car (2000 VW Jetta, stick shift, 4 cylinder? 6 cylinder? I don’t remember!) I went about 450 mostly highway miles on a full 13-gallon tank, using the AC. That’s about 35 mpg. Pretty good if you ask me. Now, keep in mind, most of the driving is just me in the car. I rarely have passengers, not that I mind that or won’t carpool. It’s just the way it seems to be. Also, the SUV we have is gas-guzzler in comparison, but with all the stuff we had to tote this weekend, sometimes it’s necessary to drive it. Next weekend, we are taking my car.

Anyway, there are a few things I’ve been doing for a while just because, but I now realize that it’s probably made a difference in my fuel-efficiency during everyday driving. First, I always park the car in the garage when I’m home. I know some people don’t have the luxury, so if you don’t, maybe under a tree would work. I don’t really know. To me, parking in the garage helps a lot because it keeps the car cool. When I go to work, I don’t have to turn on the AC because the cool air in the car lasts until I get there, which is a about 15-minute commute on mostly highway. Lucky, I know.

I always use cruise control, even when I’m only going 35-45 mph. I’ve been doing that for years so I wonder if that’s going to go kaput some time soon. Regardless, I heard a while back that using cruise control is good for your fuel-efficiency. I like it because I’m not always good at keeping a constant speed. This is also good for those who have lead-foot issues. Because I use the cruise control and am so used to it, I coast a lot and only use the brakes when I have to. Again, I’ve heard that’s a good way to reduce fuel consumption.

I drive us around town more. We used to always take the SUV when we went to dinner, to the store, whatever, but now I drive us in the VW more.

Something new that I’ve started to do the last few months is avoiding stop-and-go driving. Where we live, getting around is pretty easy. On our way to our usual places, we typically have the choice between the highway and the lights. Distance-wise, the lights are probably shorter, but there are a lot of them. So now I avoid as many lights as I can. In fact I now take a different route to work so that I don’t have to drive through town. There are a ton of stop lights in downtown. If only I had thought of this 8 years ago!

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