With domestic fuel prices in constant flux, many drivers are looking for ways to reduce gas consumption without sacrificing too much of their daily routines. Until alternative fuels such as ethanol or hydrogen become commercially viable, however, we will be at the mercy of the oil companies, both foreign and domestic. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to reduce gas consumption without learning to ride a grass-powered horse or walking ten miles to work and back every day.
One way to reduce gas consumption is to keep the car in the garage as much as possible. If weather permits, ride a bicycle to work or school a few times a week. Form carpools for everything from daily work commutes to a child's band practice or sporting events. Take advantage of any mass transit system provided by the city, including buses and train services. Invest in a motor scooter for quick trips to local stores.
Other ways to reduce gas consumption may require a change in your driving habits. Plan out your weekly shopping needs in order to make one economical trip instead of a half-dozen shorter ones. Start shopping at the furthest location and work your way back home. Buy nonperishable staples such as paper goods in bulk so you won't have to make additional shopping runs later. Combine other errands whenever possible to reduce total time spent driving. A child may have to wait a little longer for a ride home, but the parent can reduce gas consumption by completing errands in a more efficient order.
Many car experts suggest that proper vehicle maintenance can reduce gas consumption considerably. Even something as minor as keeping your tires properly inflated can reduce gas consumption by as much as one or two percent. Underinflated tires cause the engine to work harder, which in turn causes poorer gas efficiency. Replacing air filters at the proper time can also reduce gas consumption, since the fuel/air mixture is a vital part of the combustion process. Using a quality brand of gasoline and keeping the spark plugs clean can also reduce gas consumption.
When fuel prices reach record highs, many people reduce gas consumption by switching to more fuel-efficient cars. When purchasing a second family vehicle or a first car on a tight budget, it pays to consider a compact or subcompact model with high gas mileage ratings. A sports utility vehicle (SUV) or mini-van may be ideal for hauling a large family or carpoolers, but it may not be the most economical choice for short distance errands. Hybrid gas/electric cars may involve a waiting list and a sizable initial investment, but their substantial mileage ratings and fuel efficiency are hard to beat.
Until alternative fuels become readily available, the best way for consumers to reduce gas consumption is to make the most of each trip and voluntarily to reduce their amount of pleasure driving until gas prices become reasonable again.