If gas prices are causing you to do a double take, you’re not alone. In March 2022, the U.S. set a new record for the most expensive price for a gallon of gas. Prices have continued to rise, leaving many people looking for ways to save on gas prices.
In late May 2022, skyrocketing gas prices reached a national average of $4.62. In Northern New Mexico, prices are slightly lower; however, they’re still staggering. With prices hovering around $4.40 per gallon, the cost of driving to work, school, and around town is likely taking a bite out of your budget. From gas-buying strategies to driving techniques, here are 8 ways to save on the price of gas.
1. Price shop with a gas app to save on gas.
Apps like GasBuddy can help you shop for the best gas prices in town, but this app doesn’t have a corner on the market. Navigation apps you may already be using, such as Waze and Google Maps, can help you find gas stations near you. Filtering by price reveals the cheapest gas. You’ll also save by not driving around town looking for the best price.
2. Pay with cash.
You might be surprised at the pump by paying several cents per gallon more than you expected. What’s the difference between the price advertised on the gas station’s billboard and the cost you pay at the pump? The advertised price is only for cash payments. Using a credit card may run you five to 10 cents per gallon extra because the station is passing along credit card company transaction fees to you. These fees may also apply even if you’re using your debit card. The difference adds up when you fill your tank. Paying with cash may save you a buck — or a few.
3. Join a rewards program.
Many grocery stores, including Smith’s and Albertsons, offer shopping rewards programs that can help you save at the pump. With these programs, you’ll accrue points as you shop. Once you hit certain point levels, you earn rewards — in some cases 10 cents off each gallon of gas. If you’re already part of a rewards program, this could be an easy way to save.
4. Fill up on the cheapest days of the week.
Gas prices fluctuate often. You might even see a different price each day of the week. To save, fill up on the days of the week with the cheapest prices. According to Gas Buddy, which tracks real-time gas prices, on average, Monday is the least expensive day to buy with Friday coming in second. The worst day to save is Thursday.
5. Adapt your driving.
Planning your routes, avoiding unnecessary trips, and sharing rides will all help make your driving trips more fuel-efficient. Changing the way you drive while you’re out and about will help, too.
The U.S. Department of Energy has a handful of recommendations to help you drive more fuel efficiently:
- Drive smoothly. Rapid acceleration, speeding, and sudden braking waste gas. These driving habits can lower your car’s fuel efficiency 10% to 40% — that’s about 45 cents to $1.80 per gallon.
- Avoid excess idling. Although it may be tempting to keep your car running in school drop-off zones and drive-throughs, doing so will cost you. Idling uses “a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour,”. Turning your car off can save you two to four cents in gas costs per minute, depending on whether you’re using the AC or not.
- Opt for cruise control. Cruise control can boost fuel economy because it keeps your vehicle moving at a steady speed. However, it’s not wise to use cruise control in stop-and-go situations.
6. Turn the AC down — or off.
New Mexicans may recoil at this suggestion to turn your air conditioning off but using your car’s AC decreases fuel economy. According to fueleconomy.gov, “Under very hot conditions, AC use can reduce a conventional vehicle’s fuel economy by more than 25%, particularly on short trips.” Unfortunately, rolling your car’s windows down can also cost you by creating drag and, in turn, reducing fuel economy. So, what should savvy drivers do?
- Roll the windows down at lower speeds and use the AC at highway speeds.
- Drive with the windows down for a short time to push hot air out of your vehicle before turning on your AC.
- Don’t use your AC more than you need.
7. Park smart.
During New Mexico summers there’s a premium on shady parking spots. These prize spots are about to become more coveted thanks to this tip: parking in the shade can help you resist cranking the AC, and thus help you save on fuel. However, don’t circle the lot searching for the perfect covered spot. Doing so wastes gas.
8. Travel light.
If your car is a mobile closet, garage, or sports equipment storage room, it may cost you at the pump. Carrying an extra 100 pounds in your car could reduce your car’s average miles per gallon by about 1%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. This affects smaller vehicles, such as sedans, more than large ones, like SUVs. Removing excess weight could save you four cents per gallon.
Hauling cargo on your roof can be a drag — literally. It increases aerodynamic drag and thus lowers fuel economy. Removing a roof-top cargo box from your car could save you nine to 76 cents per gallon.
Here’s a tip for the future: If you’re shopping for a new or used vehicle, consider its EPA rating. An EPA rating of 30 miles per gallon or more is considered a good rating. And remember, if you’re considering the purchase of a more fuel-efficient vehicle, State ECU offers great rates for our members!