Gas is going to continue its 32-day steady rise at the pump through April to $4 a gallon,” says Chris Faulkner, CEO, Dallas-based Breitling Energy Companies. “This number, coupled with higher heating bills and lower pay checks due to expiration of the payroll tax holiday, means shrinking budgets and increasing unrest among consumers,” he continues.
While consumers can do nothing about gas and oil prices, there are plenty of tricks and techniques to combat surging pump prices and, with winter storms continuing, to lower home heating costs.
1. Fill up your tank on Wednesday or Thursday before 10 am. Gas prices rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel. 10 am is when most station owners make their price change for the day. Unless it is an emergency, do not buy gas Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
2. Don’t let your car idle, either when you warm it up or when you are at a standstill. If you’re going to be standing for more than a minute, running your engine wastes more gas than restarting the engine.
3. Buy gas when it’s cooler during the day (like the early morning or at night) to reduce gas evaporation.
4. Remove unnecessary items in your car. Every 250 extra pounds eats up an extra mile per gallon of gas.
5. Avoid the convenient gas station on the side of the highway as you drive home from work which can be up to $.15 more per gallon.
6. Save money with self-service and look for gas stations where paying cash costs the same as using a credit or debit card.
7. Double check the attendant and ensure, if you are paying by cash, that “cash” is noted on the pump. You could lose $.05 a gallon if he mistakenly presses “credit.”
8. Drive less – combine errands, carpool, and plot out the shortest route with a driving website beforehand. It may sound obvious but it is often overlooked.
9. Check for traffic and detours online or on the radio prior to beginning your drive to avoid wasteful backtracking and idling.
10. Keep your windows closed when driving on the highway. Open windows can reduce your gas mileage by as much as 10%. In stop-and-go traffic, open the windows and turn off the air conditioning to save more money.
11. Rent fuel-efficient cars when you travel and research reasonably priced places to buy gas before you leave.
12. Confirm with your mechanic what octane gasoline your car’s engine really needs. Most car engines do not require high octane though the manual will say its “recommended.”
13. Download a Gas App for your phone. If you have a Smartphone, there are plenty of free apps that help you find the cheapest gas near your destination. GasBuddy makes it easy with its free app, and Mapquest has an online finder for gas prices.
14. Buy Discount Gas Gift Cards – Did you know you don’t have to pay full price for a gift card? Sites like GiftCardGranny.com offer a diverse selection of discount gas gift cards from various card vendors.
15. Be loyal to one gas company and get rewarded with its cash-back credit card reward program.