How to lower gas consumption when gas prices are rising
Whether you commute a long distance to and from your clinic, or you're a mobile practitioner, we know gas prices are beating you up. Here in Kansas, gas prices have climbed to $3.70 for unleaded. We're guessing it's not much different where you are. But there are things you can do right now to improve your gas mileage.
> Go easy on the pedals. Do you like to make quick lane changes with sudden acceleration? Do you take off at every green light like it's the start of a NASCAR race? Well, you're wasting gas. Sensible driving—slow and steady acceleration, deceleration, and braking—can improve your feul economy by 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent around town.
> Watch your speed. You know what increases just like your adrenaline as you race down the highway? Air resistance. Air resistance that's pushing your gas mileage through the roof. It happens for most cars past 60 mph. The EPA says every 5 mph past 60 you drive is like paying an extra 20 cents per gallon for gas. It's bad enough prices are rising—don't do it yourself.
> Remove excess weight. OK, equine practitioners, we know most of that stuff in your cab and truck bed is absolutely necessary. But if you tend to be disorganized, you might be carrying extra equipment and supplies that could really add up. An extra 100 pounds in a car's trunk or a truck bed can reduce your miles per gallon by as much as 2 percent.
> Stop idling. Contrary to popular myth, turning off and restarting your car is not hard on your engine. At least, the wear-and-tear of that doesn't add up to the gas you're losing idling for minutes at a stop light, in a fast-food line, or in somebody's driveway. Don't idle when you don't need to. This ain't rocket science—you get zero miles to the gallon when you idle.
> Cruise to save gas. Cruise control is an easy way to keep your speed even, minimizing acceleration and deceleration and encouraging you stay around that magic 60 mph.
> Drive in overdrive. If you've got overdrive, use it. Your vehicle's engine speed drops when you do, consuming less gas and, you guessed it, saving you money.
> Avoid traffic. You're a veterinarian, so you're already getting to work early, staying late, and avoiding the rush. Whatever you do, stay out of traffic. You consume less fuel when the highway is wide open.
> Combine trips. Equine veterinarians, you know you can't stop answering emergency calls. When something happens to the horse, you're on your way out in the truck, even if it's way out of your way. But what about all those other wellness and vaccination calls, ones you can schedule anytime? Start scheduling visits close to each other so you don't drive around your whole territory every time you get in your truck.
For more tips on fuel efficiency from Uncle Sam, visit fueleconomy.gov. The government also produces an annual guide comparing 2008 car models as well as an online miles-per-gallon comparison feature.