Dealing with the high cost of fuel

Comparison shopping, driving habits and planning will save money on fuel.

Gasoline prices continue to increase, with no limit in sight. In 2000, the national average for a gallon of gas was $1.58. In 2012, the national average had soared to $3.61 per gallon. Besides comparison shopping between gas stations , we can improve the efficiency of our gas usage.

Compare the price of gas in your community. Even though gas stations may be close in proximity, there can be a difference in their prices. Websites such as and offer comparison information. Consider store loyalty programs that reward customers with discounts on fuel prices.

Use alternative means of transportation to help stretch your fuel budget. Walking, bike-riding, public transportation or car pooling are just a few suggestions. Purchasing a vehicle that delivers better fuel economy will help too.

Pay attention to your driving habits. Repeatedly changing lanes, aggressive driving, and accelerating rapidly will cause your vehicle to use more gas. Letting the vehicle engine idle will also consume between one quarter and one half gallon per hour depending on the engine size and air conditioner use.

Any speed over 50 miles per hour generally causes gas mileage to decrease. It is wise to use cruise control for highway traveling, which will force your vehicle to stay at the same speed and save gas.

Overdrive gears reduce an engine’s speed and will also save gas.

Keep the vehicle’s tires inflated at the proper level. This can improve gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent. Check the car’s owner manual or the sticker found on the driver’s side door jamb for the correct inflation level.

Remember, a little planning goes a long way. Map your route to tackle as many errands as possible in one trip. (Less mileage means less fuel used). Investigate your neighborhood to find viable businesses that are accessible without a vehicle.

There is not much that we can do about rising fuel prices. However, Michigan State University Extension suggests that a little planning and investigative work can minimize the impact on our budgets.

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