With gasoline prices at $3.84 per gallon, on average, and likely to hit $4 by summer, you're probably feeling the pain at the pump. However, there are ways to keep gas costs under control. Chris Faulkner, CEO of Texas-based Breitling Oil and Gas Co., offers these ten tips:
1. Download a gas app to find cheaper prices. You can use your smart phone to comparison shop for the lowest gas prices in your zip code with a free app such as GasBuddy. If you don't have a smart phone, visit GasBuddy.com or gasprices.mapquest.com before you leave home or the office to check gas prices online.
2. Don't buy gas near the highway. People like convenience, but gas stations near the highway charge 10 cents to 15 cents a gallon more, Faulkner says. Drive a little farther from the interchange to find a better deal (this is where the GasBuddy app is handy). If you're traveling, gas up in a rural town rather than a large city because prices will be lower.
3. Use a discount gift card. Discount gift card sites, such as Plastic Jungle and Gift Card Granny, sell cards at less than face value for gas stations, such as BP and Shell. They go quickly, though, so sign up for e-mail alerts to be notified when they're in stock. Also look for discounted gift cards for Walmart or grocery stores that have gas stations.
4. Keep car windows closed on the highway. Open windows add drag and reduce your car's gas mileage by as much as 10%. In stop-and-go traffic, lower your windows to reduce air-conditioning use, which will drain your gas tank.
5. Develop good driving habits. You can improve a vehicle's gas mileage by up to 5% by avoiding quick starts and stops. Gas mileage also decreases as you accelerate beyond 55 mph.
6. Don't carry unnecessary items in your car. Every 200 pounds to 250 pounds lowers your car's fuel efficiency by 1 mile per gallon.
7. Keep your tires properly inflated. Faulkner says he tested this with his mother's car. She added 7% to her gas mileage by keeping her tires properly inflated.
8. Fill 'er up with regular. Most cars don't need the premium-grade gasoline, which cost 24 cents a gallon more, on average, than regular grade gas the week of April 18, according to the Energy Information Administration.
9. Combine errands with other driving you're going to do. Make sure you aren't making multiple trips and using more gas.
10. Don't overfill your tank. If you top off, you're just wasting money on the gas that inevitably sloshes out of the tank.
I'll add a few of my own:
11. Carpool when possible!
12. Buy things online so you don't have to spend money driving to the store. Many stores offer free shipping!
13. Sell that gas-guzzling SUV and get something smaller and more gas-efficient, if possible.
14. With the high cost of gas now, sometimes it's actually cheaper to fly to your destination than to drive there! Compare airline fares at www.orbitz.com
15. Call your auto insurance company to find out if there are any available discounts you might not be getting currently, such as "good driver", "good grades", or when you bundle your auto insurance with other policies for house, renter's insurance, or universal.
Be safe on the roads, don't text and drive, and save money!
Sister Thrifty a/k/a Trina Boice