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Saving Money on Gasoline

"Talking Transportation," a weekly column by Jim Cameron

The Russian invasion of the Ukraine has thrown the world energy markets into turmoil, raising the price of gasoline in Connecticut to more than $4 per gallon. And given that 26% of all energy in this country is spent on transporting people, sticker shock at the gas pump will affect all of us.

I’ve written before about our state’s crazy “Zone Pricing” for gasoline, which is why you’ll pay 42 cents more per gallon for fuel in Greenwich than in Bridgeport. But wherever you drive, there are some simple ways of saving on gas.

DRIVE LESS: Duh! If you plan your trips and only drive when you must, you’ll not waste miles cruising the highway. Map out your shopping. Work from home. Try walking. Ride a bike.

CAR POOL: Even if just occasionally, try sharing the ride to work or the airport. Check www.CTrides.com or www.rideshare.com, which can help you find someone to share the ride. 

TAKE THE BUS: Our region’s bus service is improving and is increasingly popular.  “The Coastal Link” bus from Milford to Norwalk along Rt. 1 runs seven days a week and costs only $1.75 (vs. $4.50 on Metro-North).  And the “I-Bus” from Stamford and Greenwich to White Plains still costs only $4.  

PUT YOUR KIDS ON THE BUS TOO: Your tax dollars pay for school buses, so why do so many parents insist on driving their kids to school each morning in “the SUV parade”?  What are we teaching our kids about avoiding mass transit?

If you must drive you can save gasoline by avoiding these mistakes:

· Don’t accelerate too quickly, especially from a dead stop. Pretend there’s a raw egg between your foot and the gas pedal and ease into it.

· While driving down the road, if you see the light ahead turn red, take your foot off the gas and coast to a stop. It will also save wear and tear on your brakes.

· Keep your vehicle as light as possible. No need to waste fuel hauling extra weight.

· Keep your tires properly, but not over-inflated. Softer tires increase road friction. Over-inflation may increase MPG slightly but causes more wear on your tires.

· Keep your gas tank cap tightly closed. If you get air in your gas tank your engine has to burn more fuel.

· Don’t idle your car unnecessarily. Sitting still can burn one to two ounces of fuel a minute or about a gallon an hour that’s giving you zero MPG.

· When you gas-up, do it in the morning when the station’s underground tanks are coldest and the fuel is the densest.

· Replace your engine’s air filter as often as recommended by the manufacturer. A clogged air filter has to work harder to combust the fuel, cutting down on efficiency.

· Come the warmer weather, use your car’s air conditioner sparingly. But for 60 mph highway driving, keeping your windows closed actually improves mileage by cutting down on drag.

· Use your car’s cruise control to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration, the two enemies of good MPG.

· Just slow down. Driving at 60 mph instead of 70 can save you two to four miles per gallon!

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