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10 Easy Ways to Fill the Tank Less This Summer

May 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologists

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Gas prices have gone up again... just in time for the start of the Memorial Day weekend, ugh! These high gas prices are motivating Americans to drive less and drive slower to save fuel. Filling the tank less will not only help save money, but will help create a cleaner environment.

Driving cars releases chemicals that can combine in the atmosphere to produce acid rain, ground-level ozone and smog. Higher concentrations of ozone near the ground-level can be harmful to your health by irritating the respiratory system, worsening asthma, and reducing the immune system`s ability to battle bacterial infections in the respiratory system. Ground-level ozone is created through the interaction of motor vehicle emissions and other pollutants in the presence of heat and sunlight. Due to its dependence on higher temperatures and sunshine, ozone is typically a summertime pollutant and the chief factor of summertime smog.

Driving less in the summertime may not only pad your pockets, but help for cleaner summer air to breathe in. The following list points out the 10 best ways to use less gas every day:

1. Carpool

Join a carpool within your child`s soccer team or with co-workers that live nearby. This can save you money on gas, save time and help to lessen traffic on the roads. Carpooling drivers are often allowed to use less congested highway lanes in big cities during rush hours, so the commute to work may even go faster.

2. Get on the Bike

Keep the wallet full while bettering your health with exercise; you can`t go wrong! Especially on warm summer days, taking the bike to work if you have a close enough commute is a great idea.

3. Slow Down!

It`s a proven fact that driving fast will increase the drag on the car and thus increase your fuel consumption. A car racing along at its maximum speed, say a little over 100 mph, would consume twice as much gas as if it were driven at 60 mph. This is because the higher the scale of power use, engines become less and less efficient. Staying below the speed limit is good for more than being safe and avoiding speeding tickets!

4. Keep it Steady

Cars consume the most gas as they accelerate. An already moving car does not require much gas to keep moving, due to the laws of physics and inertia - - once an object is in motion, it will stay in motion with the same speed unless acted on by an unbalanced force. What this means for your driving habits: keep the ride smooth and avoid slamming on the brakes, then quickly accelerating when traffic situations arise.

5. Pick a Better Route

If at all possible; avoid heavy traffic, hills and multiple traffic lights. This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes the route planned for least mileage traveled and/or shortest time will be the one that is the most inefficient for fuel. Try to avoid stop and go driving.

6. Ease up on the A/C

Try not to use the air conditioner if you don`t have to. The compressor for the air conditioner strains your car`s motor, reducing fuel economy. Instead, open up the windows and enjoy the cool summer breeze. Sometimes this may be hard in the dog days of summer, but here are a few tips to follow: turn the AC off five minutes before you reach your destination, park your car in the shade, and roll down your windows slightly so that the air can circulate through the car while parked.

7. Combine Trips

Gas, time and money can be saved by combining excursions and errands into one trip. Think ahead of all the errands you need done in the upcoming month, and make one trip to knock it all off your list.

8. Turn it Off Whenever You Can

Summertime means barbeques, picnics, and sunshine, but it unfortunately can also mean sitting in lots of traffic. If you get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, turn the vehicle off instead of sitting idle for ten or more minutes. Try not to go through drive-thru windows with extremely long lines; instead park the car and go inside.

9. Keep up on Your Car Maintenance

Check to make sure your car is tuned up and running like it should. Not only will this ensure better safety, but you`ll use less gas. Make sure your tires are fully inflated, because under-inflation can create resistance that reduces fuel economy. Also remember to change your oil; dirty oil can increase the resistance on your engine and create poorer gas mileage.

10. Empty the Car instead of the Wallet

Clean out any extra textbooks, golf clubs and baseball bats, toolboxes, or any other unnecessary items that may be adding weight to your car. Superfluous weight can use up the gasoline and drive down your fuel mileage. Every 100 pounds extra can drop your gas mileage by a couple percent.

Follow the 10 tips above for fun and safe driving while maintaining your budget and helping to allow for better air quality.

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Story Image: Associated Press photo of unsold 2008 Town & Country minivans at a Chrysler-Jeep dealership in Centennial, Colo., on April 27, 2008.

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