Late October has the feeling of a last hurrah. It’s the season of pumpkin spice and Halloween parties, but just around the corner is the most serious of the seasons—and also potentially the most expensive. The dreaded winter.
And as fall ramps up into winter, you may notice another thing ramping up: your fuel bill. Not only does the winter require you to pay a larger gas bill to heat your home, it also tends to increase your driving costs. Keeping your car heated and running in cold temperatures tends to burn up fuel. Battery performance decreases, friction increases, and overall, it’s just a bit more effort to keep your car in good shape.
But there are ways to keep your fuel costs down. With a little pre-planning, you can cut your expenses and keep your car happy through the cold months. And if you save enough, you may just find yourself with the cash to fly somewhere warm. The ultimate win/win.
It’s getting cold out there, and that means the pull of a warm car is particularly strong. But idling your car is bad for your bank account and the environment. In fact, according to LiveSmart BC, reducing idling by 10 minutes a day saves you $52 in gas annually. So next time you’ve got to get into a cold car, instead of idling, layer up, do ten jumping jacks, and grab a reusable heat pack. Get your warmth from places other than your car’s fuel.
No, keeping calm behind the wheel isn’t just a great tip for road rage—it’ll actually save you money. As Mythbusters confirmed, driving like a jerk will cost you. Abrupt braking, sudden acceleration, and speeding all affect your mileage. So the first step to saving fuel? Take a few slow, deep breaths.
Not only does driving smoothly improve gas mileage, but so does driving slowly. According to natural resources Canada, most cars operate at maximum efficiency between 50 and 80 km/h. So ease up on the gas pedal, and on your wallet.
Get your car tuned up
It turns out having a well-oiled (literally) vehicle can save you gas money. Cars that are well maintained use up to ten percent less fuel. Meanwhile, having under-inflated tires can increase your gas consumption by up to ten percent. So keep your tires filled and your engine purring. Your car will last longer and cost less.
Take the junk out of your trunk
The more weight your car carries, the more fuel it burns, so if you’ve been carrying firewood around in our trunk “just in case,” it may be time to drop it.
Buy gas when it’s cold out
Gas is actually denser in colder temperatures, so when it’s hot out, you’re getting less bang for your buck. Luckily, this one shouldn’t be a problem in the winter, but it’s good to keep temperatures in mind when you hit the pumps.
Plan your driving route in advance
It may seem obvious, but one way to use less fuel is to drive less. Which can mean using alternate modes of transportation, but it can also mean planning more efficient routes. Taking wrong turns and getting stuck on one-ways can end up taking up a lot of time—and fuel. So get yourself to Google Maps and find the quickest and smartest way from A to B.
There are lots of advantages to carpooling: getting to know coworkers on a long commute, getting to use the carpool lane, and getting to nap in the back while someone else drives. There’s really no reason that every person needs to drive their own car if the destination is the same. Carpooling is an environmentally friendly—and just plain friendly—option that will end up saving you big time.
Find the cheapest pumps
And how exactly do you find the cheapest gas stations at any given moment? The same way you probably manage most areas of your life these days—using an app. GasBuddy is a popular choice, but if you poke around the app store, there are lots of apps to help you find the most affordable gas nearby. Apps: is there anything they can’t do?
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