Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 11, 2014

Slow down, save money


Kokomo Tribune

---- — Spring break for IU and Purdue students is next week. Local school districts will be on break the first week of April. And though drivers are accustomed to a run-up in gasoline prices just before vacation season, we all must acknowledge we likely never will pay fewer than $3 per gallon for gasoline again.

It’s time we all get serious about conservation. Complaining about pump prices won’t make them come down.

First, check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule; tune-ups improve your car’s performance, as well as its gas mileage. And while you’re at it, take an inventory of your driving habits.

Aggressive driving — speeding, jackrabbit acceleration and rapid breaking — wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. At today’s prices, you could save between 17 cents and $1.15 a gallon — just by slowing down.

There’s more you can do to conserve gas, the Energy Department reports. (The following estimates are based upon pump prices of $3.48 per gallon, though the cheapest price of regular gasoline available in Kokomo Monday morning was $3.51):

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. Each 5 mph you drive above 50 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon of gas.

• Remove excess weight. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, such as golf clubs or tool boxes. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mileage by as much as 7 cents per gallon.

• Avoid excessive idling.

• Use the cruise control.

• Use your overdrive gears.

Making such changes will save you money, the Energy Department says. And there’s an added benefit to the first two tips — they’ll make you safer, as well.