Saving at the Gas Pump
by Senator Troy Fraser
Today's gasoline prices are taking a severe toll on the pocketbooks of all Americans. A large number of factors contribute to the price of gasoline. These factors include worldwide supply and demand for crude oil, taxes, regional differences in access to gasoline supplies, environmental regulations and refining capacity.
Gas prices have been rising in part because we have been without a comprehensive national energy policy for the past few decades. In an effort to remedy the current situation, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. President Bush signed the legislation into law and while it did not lower prices overnight, it has set us on a path to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and will foster greater conservation and efficiency.
Individually, we can lower gasoline usage by driving smarter. By using a few simple gas saving tips, we can lower the demand for gasoline and thereby lower prices. If we each take a few of these small steps, then hopefully we will see an impact to gasoline prices while the Federal government works toward long-term solutions.
The following tips will reduce your personal gasoline usage and help drop the prices at the pump:
Drive Sensibly. Aggressive driving such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking wastes gas. By driving logically, you can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at normal highway speeds and 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than gas money.
Observe the Speed Limit. While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at different speeds, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume at each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.21 per gallon for gas.
Keep Your Engine Maintained. Fixing a car that is out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve your car's gas mileage by as much as 10 percent while keeping impurities from damaging the inside of your engine. Keeping your tires properly inflated can also improve your gas mileage. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage, while properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Also, using the recommended grade of motor oil can improve your gas mileage.
Other suggestions include avoiding excessive idling, using cruise control and planning and combining trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.
Gasoline keeps all of America moving. Our personal vehicles alone use 65 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel each year, and that number is projected to increase by almost 3 percent each year. However, if we all follow the above suggestions, we could lower the amount of gasoline consumed and thereby lower our total gasoline costs.
Senator Fraser represents a 21-county region in the geographic center of the state. He is the Chairman of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee. He also sits on the following standing Senate Committees: Natural Resources, State Affairs, and International Relations and Trade.