How do you get the most from your tank of gas?

Earlier today I updated my twitter account (follow me here) saying that our household has a new rule inspired by rising gas prices. The rule? If where you need to go is a mile or less away from home you need to walk or ride your bike there. If where you need to go is a mile or more from home it needs to be “batched” with other needed stops in the same direction.

Sharing that returned a question – how does that affect our shopping for groceries? In terms of fuel consumption, it’s part of the rule above. In terms of our household economics, it means that we’ve cut back on extras (generally soda and junk food). I promised I would share the family ideal on stretching the fuel budget with local gas prices at $3.83/gal and climbing.

  • Make lists. We try to make lists for each of the stores we regularly use so that if it’s truly on the way we can take care of it on a pass by rather than making a special trip.
  • Grocery shopping happens once per week, with a trip to the Sam’s Club about once a month for bulk items.
  • Plan to run errands when we’re already out, to places on the route.
  • Make fewer trips. Many days our son will drive and drop his sister at school on his way to school, saving the “middle” trip home and back for me. His school isn’t on a bus route, but our daughter takes public transportation home from school whenever possible.
  • Share rides whenever possible. (My daughter is even encouraging her friends to share rides to our combination birthday-graduation celebration).
  • Keep up the car – regular care of oil, filters, alignment, and tire inflation helps mileage. So does keeping the windows closed in favor of the air conditioning.
  • Obey the speed limit. For every 10 mph extra you lose as much as 15% in fuel economy. That means slowing down in most situations, but it truly does save fuel, and costs very little in terms of time (I could write one of those word problems, but you get the point, I’m sure). Again, it comes back to planning the extra couple of minutes to not feel rushed and let you slow down.
  • Make the car as light as possible by not carrying around packages (and assorted youth ministry supplies 😉 ) in your car when unneeded. It means unloading the car when you get home from shopping or a trip, but it saves fuel by making your car lighter

These are all pretty much common knowledge ways to save gas, and many of them were a value for us before. Now, though, they’re becoming habit which is good for us and the environment too.

What are you doing to stretch fuel dollars that we may have missed?

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