As Hurricane Isaac heads for the Gulf Coast, several oil refineries might have to temporarily shut their doors. This could, according to USA Today, drive up gas prices 10 cents a gallon or higher over the next few weeks.
With the nationwide average price already at $3.75 a gallon, thanks in part to oil refinery closures in Illinois and California, this bump caused by even more prolonged refinery closures could push drivers over the edge. To help save some hair pulling and checkbook rebalancing, we took a look back at our favorite -- and weirdest -- gas saving tips throughout the years.
Gas Saving Tips: Practical to Extreme
5 Ways to Keep Hurricane Isaac From Blowing Your Gas Bill Higher
One tip we see over and over again, but that isn’t immediately obvious, is to make your car as light as possible. This can be done by simply cleaning out your trunk and removing unused roof racks, or you can go for some more extreme measures. Last year, DailyFinance senior features writer Bruce Watson asked our readers for their gas saving tips. “Ray” said he pulled out all of his car’s seats (save the driver’s), ash trays, speakers, radio, sound deadening material, interior trim, and anything else he deemed “not integral to the vehicle’s driving ability.”
Driving less is another tried and true (and obvious) tip, but sometimes the methods of reducing your driving aren’t as apparent. One way to cut down on trips to the grocery store would be to plan out your meals for the week. You can also buy in bulk.
Also, it can help to combine several errands into one trip, rather than having to leave your house multiple times.
Oh, and take your bike or walk if you can. You can exercise and save money at the same time.
Plan your route beforehand with the goal of reducing idling, accelerating and breaking in mind. The longer you can drive at a constant speed, the better for your fuel economy. Also, slow down a bit. For every 5 mph over 60 mph that you travel, it costs you the equivalent of an extra 24 cents a gallon. Try to avoid left turns, and accelerate more gently. And, go to gas stations during off-peak hours to avoid waiting in line, which involves idling and wasting fuel.
Make sure your tires are inflated to the right pressure, make sure you have fresh oil, and replace any dirty air filters. All of those things can improve your car's fuel economy. A simple tuneup can save the equivalent of 16 cents a gallon. We’ve also heard from our readers that gas chips can help increase your fuel efficiency -- some say by up to 10%.
The technique of driving with the aim of getting the very best mileage out of your car -- using a slew of different methods -- is called "hypermiling."
For example: Hypermilers note the exact speed necessary to go over the crest of the hill, so that on the downhill they don’t have to waste gas braking. They will also time their trips to take advantage of strong tailwinds and avoid headwinds/crosswinds.
Another hyper-tip: Shop at stores located at higher elevations than your home. That way, when the car is weighed down by everything you buy, you'll be traveling downhill.
Drafting (following closely behind a large vehicle at highway speeds to reduce headwinds) is considered extremely dangerous, but hypermilers have found a somewhat safer version. During times with high crosswinds, driving in the lane next to a large truck can provide similar advantages to drafting from behind. (Check out this link for more extreme hypermiling tips.)