The Alliance to Save Energy today urged Americans to "Drive $marter" and less as the most affordable and best way to ride out the current gasoline supply shortages and price spikes -- in some areas to more than $5 per gallon -- that have resulted from the shutdown of refineries along the Gulf Coast.
"As Americans, we have witnessed supply and demand economics at work in the 'real world' this year as oil and then gasoline prices hit all-time record highs, which helped to bring about record-level reductions in U.S. demand, which in turn has been a factor in the recent significant drops in the price of oil," notes Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan.
The combination of high gas prices and a difficult economy led to the first decline in driving and gasoline usage in this country since 1980. When gas prices escalated to record highs of more than $4 per gallon this summer ($4.11 average in mid- July), declines became greater.
"There will be continued price fluctuations over time, and there is no assurance that oil and gasoline prices won't reach or surpass this year's records in the future, so the best bet -- and the best way to protect your pocketbook -- is to 'Drive $marter' all the time," advises Callahan. "How much we drive and the way we drive and maintain our vehicles affect the fuel efficiency of our vehicles and our gasoline costs."
To reduce gasoline use, the Alliance president encourages drivers to utilize the free and extensive money-saving gas tips (available in English and Spanish), resources, myth busters, and discount vehicle maintenance coupons provided on the interactive Drive $marter Challenge website -- http://www.drivesmarterchallenge.org.
Drivers can take advantage of the unique and interactive vehicle calculator -- available on the website -- to determine how many hundreds of dollars they can save on gasoline by following six easy driving and maintenance actions. Motorists who take the challenge can watch their individual savings ($, gallons, and CO2 emissions) become part of a running total on the website of all who have taken the challenge since the campaign began in May. The Alliance, the Wal-Mart Foundation, and 17 other nonprofit, governmental, and for-profit partners developed the website as part of an overall Drive $marter Challenge campaign designed to help consumers reduce their gas use and costs.
A sampling of Drive $marter Challenge driving and maintenance tips:
- Curb road rage. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds. Drivers can save up to 80 gallons of gasoline, or up to $310, by driving sensibly on the highway. If you don't have a "lead foot," your savings may be closer to 10% at highway speeds - about $95.
- Drive sensibly. Around town, sensible driving can save 5% -- up to 30 gallons of gasoline and up to $115.
- Cut miles. If you can cut your vehicle miles traveled by just 5% through combining trips, walking, biking, or taking public transportation, you can save up to $115 per year on gasoline costs. Drivers who switch to other alternatives to get to work might get a car insurance premium discount because typically rates are assigned based on how far you drive to work.
- Carpool. Using the average U.S. work commute of 12.1 miles, commuters could save about $300 a year by carpooling twice a week with two other people in a vehicle that gets 20.1 miles per gallon -- assuming the three passengers share the cost of gas.
- Request the right rental. Request a vehicle that gets better fuel economy, and fill up the tank before returning the car to the rental company, which charges much higher gas prices -- and perhaps even an extra gas surcharge.
- Inflate Your Tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated is simple and improves gas mileage by around 3%, saving up to 20 gallons of gasoline, or about $75.
- Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4% -- saving up to 25 gallons of gasoline and about $95. Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve mileage by as much as 40% -- saving up to 250 gallons or up to $940.
(*Tips are calculated as annual savings, driving the national average of 12,500 miles per year in a vehicle with a fuel economy of 20.1 mpg using regular grade gasoline at $3.78 per gallon -- the projected 2008 annual average by the Energy Information Administration's June Short Term Energy Outlook.)