By Stacy Zemon, Publisher & Chief Scribe
1.You need to travel to and from client events in a vehicle that can hold your equipment.
2. Unless you own an electric car, you need to fill your vehicle with gas.
Unfortunately, the upcoming year is forecast to see the highest U.S. gas prices ever. For we mobiles, that translates into this cost of doing business eating away at our profit margins. So, what can you do to combat 2013 gas costs down?
Here are thirteen tips to help you:
1. Shop around. Gas prices do vary from station to station, and those pennies per gallon saved can really add up. Also, check out gas-comparison apps like Cheap Gas or GasBuddy when you’re on the go.
2. Don’t overlook stores. If your entertainment company is a Costco member, for instance, you might fill up at their gas stations, where prices are usually below average. Or, if you shop Safeway, Publix and other grocery stores that have gas stations, you may be able to apply store credits against your gas bill. These stations may also offer discounted gas cards.
3. Plot your route. Use a global positioning system (GPS) to help you navigate and find the fastest and shortest distance to your destination. Avoiding hills and stops will increase your gas mileage. If it’s a regular route you drive, try to eliminate left turns, which involve more idling than right turns. When UPS did, the delivery service cut 20 million miles of driving.
4. Slow down. Speeding burns more gas, so stay under the speed limit. After Staples installed devices that keep its trucks from exceeding 60 miles per hour, the office-supply giant shaved $8 million off its fuel costs. We don’t expect you to always stay below 60 mph, but you get the idea here.
5. Change those spark plugs often! Platinum spark plugs may claim to last 100,000 miles, but they have been known to foul up at just 75,000 miles. Spark plugs are relatively inexpensive and (depending on the vehicle) easy to replace.
6. Take care of your truck, van or car. A properly maintained vehicle will run more efficiently and give you better mileage, which saves you money in gas.
7. Fill up efficiently. This involves three things: Fill the tank full. If you need to fill up, fill up all the way. The more money you try to save by adding $10 today and then $20 tomorrow will be wasted since each time you will have to travel to the station and wait for a pump. Instead, do it all at once to save time and money.
8. Top off the air in the tires every few weeks. This is best done according to the car manufacturer’s recommended pressure, and when the tires are cold (have not been driven on more than a mile or so) — it is proper for them to have a few psi higher pressure after extensive driving, but filling them hot should generally be avoided unless they are very low on air to avoid inaccuracy. Excessive pressure adds very little efficiency and can cause bad handling and uneven tire wear.
9. If you can fit your gear in it, buy a hybrid. Not only do hybrids give you immediate savings at the pump, the U.S. government and your local state offer tax breaks for people who use gas-saving cars. Federal deductions for using gas-saving cars can be as high as $2,000, but check before buying to see if they’re still in effect. Also, check with your insurance company because Hybrids have higher insurance rates.
10. Avoid idling. While idling, your car gets exactly 0 mile per gallon while starting the car uses the same amount as idling for 6 seconds. Park your car and go into the restaurant rather than idling in the drive-through. Idling with the air conditioning on also uses extra fuel. Also, avoid going so fast that you have to brake for someone. Whenever you brake, you waste the gas it took to get going that fast.
11. Drive at a consistent speed. Avoid quick acceleration and hard braking. Cruise control will keep you at a constant speed, even when going up and down hills.
12. Park in the shade. Gasoline actually evaporates right out of your tank, and it does so faster when you park directly in the sun – winter or summer. Parking in the shade also keeps it cooler inside, and you will need less A/C to cool off when you get back in. If there is no shade available, park so that your gas tank (the actual tank under the car, not the valve to fill it) is facing away from the direct sun. Also, today’s fuel systems are supposed to be airtight. Your gas cap should have a seal in it. Make sure that the seal is keeping the fumes in and outside air out.
13. Use A/C only on the highway. At lower speeds, open the windows. This increased the drag and reduces fuel efficiency, but not as much as the AC at low speeds (35-40 mph). Even better, at any speed, turn on the vent when it is cool outside or open windows just a few inches. The air con – when used a lot – is known to use up about 8% of the fuel you put into your car.