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7 Easy Ways to Save Gas

Saving gas is important for both the environment and our wallets. With gas prices continuing to rise and pollution from cars contributing significant levels to global warming, it is more important than ever to adopt good, gas-efficient driving habits now.

1. Drive as close as you can to 50 miles per hour.

50 mph is the most gas efficient speed there is. Going faster than that wastes a lot of gas. For every 5 mph you drive above 50mph, you waste about $0.25 on every gallon of gas. Driving too fast also means a lot of fast stopping and starts for slower cars, pedestrians, and traffic lights, which means even more gas is wasted.

2. Don't tailgate.

If you tailgate the vehicle in front of you, you will be constantly hitting your brakes to avoid an accident. When you slow down from hitting the brakes, you have to put pressure on the gas to speed up again, which causes more tailgating and more hitting the brakes. This wastes gas, and also causes extra wear on your brakes. Instead, drive a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you and you will not have to brake so much.

3. Stick to one lane at a constant pace.

Speeding up and slowing down is another way to waste gas. Like hitting the brakes too much, driving at inconsistent speeds causes gas waste because you are constantly putting pressure on the gas pedal, and usually too much pressure. Changing lanes means a lot of changing speeds because you have to slow down a little to change lanes and then you speed up. Sticking to one lane will keep your speed more constant. For long stretches on the highway, put your car in cruise control so you don't have to constantly press on the gas pedal.

4. Coast down hills.

To drive up a hill, you have to apply more gas to fight gravity and keep the momentum going. But you can make up for it by taking your foot off the gas completely when going downhill. Gravity works with you here and will pull the car fast enough without using gas at all. Be careful of your speed, though. You might end up going too fast on a steep hill and you'll have to brake slowly to avoid an accident.

5. Park in the shade.

Not only will your car not become a sauna, but parking in the shade instead of in direct sunlight prevents the gasoline in your tank from evaporating. You can preserve a lot of gas by keeping the tank cool. In addition, you won't be as tempted to blast the air conditioning when you start the car, which will use even less gas.

6. The lighter the vehicle, the better.

It takes a lot more power to move something heavy than it does to move something light. So the lighter your car, the better mileage you get. Even the empty bags and soda cans from fast food trips piling up on the floor of your back seat will hurt your mileage. So keep your car as clean as possible and only take the necessary things with you. Instead of keeping the textbooks you never use on the backseat, keep them in your locker at school, as well as your gym clothes and everything else you don't absolutely need every day.

7. Plan ahead.

One of the easiest ways to conserve gas is to reduce the amount of driving you do. Plan ahead what you have to do that week. Can you consolidate errands and get them all done on the same trip? Are some things within walking or biking distance? Do your friends have similar errands? Maybe you can carpool and split the money on gas.

Driving is useful and often necessary to accomplish everything you want to do. But with some planning to keep the driving time down as much as possible, you can save a lot of gas, and benefit both the planet and your bank account.

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