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Saving Gas and the Environment

2008 August 1

About the author: Rob Lawrence joined EPA in 1990 and is Senior Policy Advisor on Energy Issues in the Dallas, TX regional office. As an economist, he works to insure that both supply and demand components are addressed as the Region develops its Clean Energy and Climate Change Strategy.

At a recent neighborhood block party (Happy 2nd Birthday Skylar!), when a new neighbor found out that I am the Energy Advisor in the Dallas regional office for EPA, she asked, “What can I do to save gas this summer?” I imagine that is a popular concern with a lot of folks today. It is hard to keep track of the fuel prices when they are changing so rapidly, including several times a week.

Here are some basic “best practices” to reduce your gas usage as well as the vehicle emissions that contribute to ozone problems and climate change. You may have seen some of the tips elsewhere, but I can attest that putting them consistently into action will benefit your financial as well as environmental well-being.

It may sound simplistic, but reducing the amount you drive each week is a major step. Take advantage of local non-driving options like walking or biking for short distance trips or increase your use mass transit or neighborhood carpooling. A couple of things that I have done include using the most efficient vehicle in our household whenever possible. It only takes a small effort to organize trips to eliminate multiple individual trips. For example, last weekend I was able to plan my Saturday errands in a circuit (home improvement store, pet supply warehouse, dry cleaners and grocery) so that I moved from place to place rather than making multiple trips over the same part of town.

How you drive can impact your efficiency too. Maintaining your car or truck by getting the engine tuned-up on schedule, replacing the air filter, and checking the pressure in your tires are good practices. Personally, unloading excess weight like those boxes of charity donations (not the spare tire or needed safety equipment) from the trunk was helpful in improving my mileage. Finally, watching your speed will greatly enhance your efficiency and ensure that you arrive safely.

It is all about reducing the number of miles you travel and then watching how you drive when it is necessary. For more tips, check out the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality Web site.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. Skylar permalink
    August 1, 2008

    First of all, my name is Skylar, and since you used my name in the post I felt an instinctive need to reply.

    Secondly, I’d like to point out that what’s more important then your driving SPEED is your acceleration and deceleration rates. The largest amount of fuel is burned from the acceleration of your vehicle, so starting out slowly from a stop sign will actually save a lot of gas.

    Also, timing stoplights out so you don’t even have to stop eliminates the added acceleration altogether.

    Changing this one aspect of my driving habits has increased my gas mileage quite a bit.

  2. Matthew J. Kelm permalink
    August 1, 2008

    Would going 80 down the beltway be fuel efficient?

    I have a very fuel efficient car, Toyota Corrolla, but I use mass transit and carpooling more to save gas and protect the environment. However, I forsee more Americans leaning towards Hybrids, because of the rising gas prices.

  3. Don Kennedy permalink
    August 4, 2008

    I purchased a Gas Saver Device that, Including Ethanol, where I had previously had 20 mpg city driving went down to 17 with ethanol and once gas saver installed I went back up to 22mpg city driving with a/c.
    On long trips ie; 250 miles my gas mileage without the gas saver was at its highest, was 24 mpg. My long trip mpg is 34 mpg
    I am now in process of installing another device that uses water. All of the engineering has been laid out and there is a great deal of similarity with two systems. Driving slower helps but the end result should be using no Petroleum based power at all. Only a few of us daredevils are equiped to do the unthinkable which is DO SOMETHING.

    Ethanol was and is the biggest mistake ever made.

  4. Rob Lawrence permalink
    August 8, 2008

    Thanks for the comment. I heard an interesting story on NPR this morning about how fuel efficiency driving techniques were built into the drivers education program in some areas of Scandinavia. An interesting idea that should be brought to our country.

  5. Rob Lawrence permalink
    August 8, 2008

    Hopefully, my blog entry got the point across that the first step was to reduce the amount of driving you do. A second step is to endeavor to operate the car or truck in the most fuel efficient manner.

  6. Rob Lawrence permalink
    August 8, 2008

    I’m not sure what technology you are using, but every solution needs to be thoroughly analyzed so that unintended consequences do not occur.

  7. James Reaves permalink
    August 14, 2008

    The most often overlooked gas-saving device is a GPS. Many GPSs will calculate the most efficient route and order for multiple stops. This feature can easily save 10-20% on a multiple-stop trip. Even finding the shortest route to places you usually go can be very helpful. My neighbor found a way to work that was nine miles rather than ten miles long, and saved 10% of her weekly commuting cost right there.

  8. patrick j. obermeyer permalink
    August 28, 2008

    Thank you for the article concerning fuel mileage. I wanted to ask if there has been any testing done on these hydrogen gas generators available to retrofit on automobile engines. The claims for increased mileage are impressive, but has any independent testing been done yet? Thank you, Patrick J. Obermeyer

  9. Rob permalink
    January 23, 2009

    Would love to drive one of these, but wish they were better on gas!

  10. Savings Accounts permalink
    October 17, 2010

    The often overlooked gas saving device has a GPS. Many GPSs most efficient and many stops in order to calculate the route. This feature easily contain more than one visit can save 10-20%. And the places you usually can be very helpful to find the shortest route. My neighbor nine miles to work instead found a way ten miles, and its weekly arrival 10% of the cost saved there.

  11. GPS permalink
    November 11, 2010

    Yes this definitely the right thing to do!

  12. April 18, 2012

    true story :)

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