Family, Youth and Community Sciences News

Research-based information, resources, and tips for families, consumers, and educators; provided by the faculty of the University of Florida/IFAS Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences.

Ouch! Those Gas Prices! What Can You Do?

Apparently, we can't expect much relief from gas prices over the summer. It's time to think of some "quick fixes" to help cut the pain at the gas station.

  1. A lot of our travel is required -- going to and from work, picking up the kids. It's hard to reduce that travel. But, we also tend to make many discretionary trips -- quick runs to the grocery store, for example. Eliminating just two discretionary trips per week can save you a lot of money at the gas station. Try combining trips -- a run to the grocery store and the cleaners at the same time that you pick up the kids. Get with your neighbors and see if you can share some of the driving chores like picking up the kids at the mall. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), several short trips from a cold start can use twice as much gas as a longer, combined trip to the same places when the engine is warm.
  2. Your gas mileage while waiting in line at a drive-thru is very easy to calculate. It is 0 miles per gallon. Park the car and go on in.
  3. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), all cars lose fuel efficiency at speeds above 55 mph and fuel efficiency really drops off at speeds over 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph reduces mileage by about 7%. So going 65 instead of 60 mph costs you about an extra $0.23 per gallon of gas when gas costs $3.30/gallon. Going 75 instead of 60 costs you a whopping 70 cents per gallon! Slower is safer, too.
  4. Maintenance is the key to peak performance. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), some things like a dirty air filter and under-inflated tires can increase your fuel cost up to 13%.
  5. Getting on the gas away from the light usually doesn't get you to your destination any faster and it's a big gas waster. Drive sensibly. It's safer and cheaper.
  6. When the time for a long trip comes, think about what you really need to take. According to DOE, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent because of the drag the rack carrier produces. If possible, make it all fit inside the car. Just take what you really need. An extra 100 lbs in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1-2 percent.