Making it my business: 5 not-crazy ways to save yourself some gas


You may have heard that gas in Richmond has officially hit $4 a gallon. I know, part of me never thought it could happen, too. But look at it this way – we could be in Europe where I believe it’s more in the $10 range right now. Still it cost 50 bones to fill up my tank yesterday – I remember when it took $10 to fill up my car. Now pumping $10 worth of gas will barely get me to and from work.

Anyway, I thought I’d break down a few tips for saving gas – I’m not talking about ridiculous strategies like drafting big rigs. I’m talking about real things you can do to save some cash, not to become some fanatical hypermiler. Let’s just keep it simple, shall we?

1. Slow the mess down.

The majority of cars are most efficient at around 55mph. It just so happens that the fairly standard speed limit of 55mph came about in 1974 in response to the Arab oil embargo of 1974 in an effort to save energy. Did you see how I just got all smart and informed all up in your face? Now I’m not saying you necessarily have to drive below the speed limit (people on 95 might kill you – or me for even suggesting it). But, think about it, do you ever really *need* to drive at or above 80mph… I mean in situations other than attempting time travel?

2. Toss the junk in your actual trunk.

Every extra pound of crap requires energy to move around. Energy = money. I’ll admit I’m guilty of mistaking my car for a junk drawer – in fact, I probably have about three pounds of faded receipts carpeting the floor of my backseat… and in my cup holders… and in the arm rest…. God, that’s gross. Let’s all make a pact that we will clean out our cars this week. We’ll keep it limited to the spare tire, the jack, and *maybe* an errant copy of Style Weekly (c’mon, you know you guys all have them stacked up in there).

3. No more peeling out.

Don’t be a jackass. Gunning your engine makes it work harder and burns more gas or, in our case, money. Accelerate like a normal person and rely on other things to make you feel awesome, like smashing beer cans on your forehead or knowing all the words to Old School (jk, jk, I love that movie).

4. Be a man and drive a stick shift.

I’m a bit biased to manual transmissions because it’s the only thing I’ve ever driven. And because my mom always said, “No daughter of mine is going to drive a prissy automatic. What if there’s an emergency and you’re the only one able to drive? *I’m* not coming to pick you up.” True story. Anyway, when driven correctly (i.e. not revving the engine) a stick shift will get you better gas mileage if you keep the rpms under 3000.

5. Stop using the brake.

Not totally. That would be dangerous! But think about it. The more often you brake, the more often you have to accelerate, thus using more gas. Luckily, The Universe has this wonderful thing called friction (please click that link, it’s SO FUN). Friction is cause by lots of things when you’re driving, specifically the road and the wind. If you scan about 10 seconds ahead and take your foot of the gas a bit sooner than you normally would, chances are you won’t have to use your brake as much. Please note though, those of us who drive in the city or in high traffic areas won’t be able to do this as much, what with all the crazy teens hopping around in the street. But you folks who live in the suburbs will be able to do this until the cows come home. Except they can’t because you live where their homes used to be. Different story though.

Do you have any other ways to save gas and, thusly, some Benjamins? Leave them in the comments.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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