One of the biggest expenses we face these days is filling the gas tanks on our precious automobiles. Eventually, most of us may move to electric vehicles at some point once things like range, cost and the availability of charging stations allows them to become more practical for the average person, but until then, most of us are stuck giving a considerable percentage of our income to the big bad oil companies.
Over the past month or so, gas prices where I live have spiked at least $.50/gallon (I haven’t kept real good track but it did jump another 7 cents this morning alone) so I thought now would be the perfect time to share some tips on how you can save fuel and money! These tips should help at least take some of the sting out of the rising gas prices.
Here are 10 tips on how you can stop wasting gas and throwing money at oil companies.
Watch your speed!
High speeds are one of the quickest ways to use a lot of gas. Once you go above 55 or 60 mph (I’ve heard both cited), for every 5 mph faster you drive, you lose around 10% of your fuel efficiency because of the increased wind resistance. I’m not saying you should impede traffic and drive 60 mph on a 75 mph interstate but I wouldn’t recommend doing more than the speed limit. If you are worried about getting somewhere on time, just make sure to leave a little early and you will save yourself money on gas and speeding tickets.
Don’t idle if you don’t have to
Idling is one of the quickest ways to kill your fuel efficiency. If you know you are going to be sitting still for a considerable amount of time like when you are waiting in the drive thru at the bank or fast food joint, turn your engine off. You can save up to 19% on your fuel efficiency by turning your engine off when you know you wont be moving for at least a minute (my rule of thumb is 20 seconds). Your A/C or heater will likely stop working when you turn the engine off but you can always roll down your windows or put a jacket on for a little bit.
This is probably the biggest way you can save on fuel and one of the things I probably struggle with the most. If you floor it every time the light turns green (what I do on occasion) or slam on the breaks every time it turns red (I rarely do this), it can hurt your fuel efficiency by as much as 30%. Smooth, gradual starts and stops will save you big bucks and in most cases you still still get where you are going just as quick as you would have otherwise. I will admit that flooring it on green is a lot of fun but it is an expensive habit.
Know when to cruise.
Cruising and knowing when to cruise can net you a 10% savings on fuel. Using cruise control on the highway is a good way to keep yourself from accidentally accelerating and using that extra bit of gas that you don’t need to use. However, while this is good advice for flat highways, when you are driving in an area with a lot of hills or mountains, forget the cruise control and focus on accelerating uphill smoothly and letting off of the gas and coasting down the other side. Coasting is a great way to save on fuel so do it whenever possible!
Use higher gears
Cars are typically more fuel efficient in higher gears so once you get to the speed you need to go, pick the gear that runs at the lowest RPM and you will be saving yet more money!
Streamline your car
Anything extra on the outside of your car is going to kill your aerodynamics and in turn, your fuel efficiency. So, unless you are in the process of transporting that bike, luggage or canoe on top of or on the back of your vehicle, leave them at home until you are ready to use them. And take off your luggage and ski racks too because that will also make a difference.
Why should multiple people going to the same place at the same time driver different cars, each using a bunch of gas if its not necessary? Whenever possible, try to carpool with co-workers and friends to work, dinner or even random errands. If you get them to pitch in on gas, your running around will be cheaper for all of you and while the extra weight in your car will make it less fuel efficient, running one car instead of 4 is still cheaper overall and running one car instead of four will be much better on the environment.
Lighten your load
You should always try to drive your vehicle with as little stuff in it as possible. Generally speaking, for every extra 100 pounds of junk in your car, it will reduce your gas mileage by 2%. Not only is having an uncluttered car more fuel efficient, it is also a lot more presentable and less to stress out about when you have to give somebody else a ride. So don’t be like me and carry around various game consoles, telescopes, tons of clothes and other things in your car unless you have a pressing need for it.
Keep your windows closed and A/C off
Similar to the streamlining point, keeping your windows closed will make your car more aerodynamic and thus more fuel efficient. Opening the windows creates enough drag on your car that it can hurt your fuel efficiency by as much as 10% so if the temperature in your car is comfortable with it closed, keep them closed! This effect isn’t really noticeable until you hit around 45 mph so if you are just driving around town, you should be ok to roll your windows down and let everybody around you know just how good your taste in music is. Also, if you don’t need to be running your A/C or heater, leave it off! I’m sure it varies from vehicle to vehicle but Consumer Reports found that running the air conditioner in a Honda Accord going 65 mph killed the gas mileage by 3 mpg which is quite a drop!
Keep your tires inflated
Finally, keep your tires inflated to their recommended air pressure. When you are driving in the snow, it is a good idea to let a little (not a lot) bit of air pressure out of your tires because it will make them grip better so you are less likely to slide. However, when the road conditions are good, that extra contact with the road will only make you use up more gas so make sure to keep your tires properly inflated and you could see a 3% or more increase in your gas mileage.
Do you have any tips for how people can save even more on fuel? Share them in the comments below! Also, make sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right too so you don’t miss tips like these in the future!
How often are you involved in a conversation about how much you hate your cable or satellite provider because they are charging you an insane amount of money?
Thanks to the cable monopoly in my town and in many cities, this is a topic that comes up at least a couple times a week.
Did you know there are tricks to cut your bill without cutting the cord?
Are you paying more than you should for what you watch? Are you the village idiot that is throwing away money on your cable and satellite bill when you don’t need to be?
Even if you think you are getting a great deal, there is a good chance you can get an even better one!
How do you find out if you are spending more money than you should on your television entertainment?
Below I have compiled a list of some tips and tricks you can use to save pockets full of money on your cable or satellite bill. Some of these tricks have saved my family hundreds of dollars a year without sacrificing a single channel!
9 Ways to Stop Throwing Away Money Like an Idiot on Cable
Bundle with other services when you can:
Do you have your TV, phone and internet through different companies? Many providers of those services offer two or even all three of those services if not more! To encourage you to give them all of your business, many companies like Comcast will bundle those services and save you money compared to if you had them separately or with different companies. It might save you money to have them under different companies but that is most likely not the case. It is also worth keeping in mind that writing a check every month to one company will save you checks and postage compared to sending checks to multiple companies.
Compare plans on your current provider:
Whether you have cable or satellite, I don’t know of a single provider that doesn’t offer multiple plans of service. Some are outrageously expensive and others can be quite cheap. Take some time and compare the plans your current provider offers to see if you can get away with a cheaper package. When comparing packages, think more about your must have channels that you watch all the time instead of all of those channels that would be nice to have. If you already have a set schedule of shows that you watch, when are you going to fit in watching all of those other shows on those channels you think you would like to have? Never. So find the smallest package that has your must have shows and go with it.
Downgrade your service:
This one goes hand in hand with the previous point. There are many times when you get a higher tier TV package just to watch a show and then when the show gets cancelled or goes down hill to the point that you lose interest, many people never think about downgrading back to their previous package. Are you paying for premium channels you once watched but don’t watch anymore? If you find yourself not watching those premium channels or higher tier channels that you used to, stop paying for them and downgrade to only what you watch!
Compare with other providers but beware of contracts:
If you are tired of dealing with the crap your current provider gives you or you are just looking to save some money, check out what other providers have to offer. Even in areas like where I live where there is only one cable company, you often still have options with satellite television providers and even some companies you would think are only phone companies. Make sure to use the advice above about looking for what you need instead of what you think sounds nice to make sure you are looking at an appropriate package for you. Also, ask friends or family that use other companies to get a feel for what they are like and find out if you are going to enjoy changing or cause yourself a world of hurt. There are two things to beware of here, contracts and hidden fees. The prices you typically see when you look at other providers are often introductory prices that are only good for 12 months or less but you are required to sign up for a 2 year contract with the rest of the contract going up to a rather crazy price that might make it a bad idea to change. Also, the advertised price for most of the major providers is for a single tv. If you have multiple TVs, you are going to need multiple boxes each usually comes with its own rental fee unless you decide to buy it outright. Whenever I have looked into making the jump from cable to satellite, this has always been a deal killer for me as I have 3 TVs that are used daily.
Use apps and online services like Netflix and Hulu:
Speaking of getting only the channels that you need, keep in mind that the channels or shows you want to watch are available on other services or devices. Many channels have their own apps on mobile devices that allow you to watch their shows on your phone or tablet whenever you want. This can be a nice substitute but beware as many cable channel apps still require you to have a cable subscription before you can watch their shows. However, there are other alternatives like Netflix and Hulu that have plenty of tv shows and movies you will love to watch for far less every month than your cable bill and with Hulu, you can still watch new episodes of your favorite shows, just a little later than they normally air and with a few less commercials.
Ask for credit for service outages:
Have you recently experienced an outage with your cable provider? It happens to all of us eventually whether the cable company has issues at their office or a squirrel chews threw the lines up on the poll (don’t laugh, this has happened to me once), sometimes your cable is going to go out. There isn’t much you can do about these outages but you can ask to be compensated for the outage. Any decent cable company will acknowledge the outage and not charge you for the time you didn’t have service. Unfortunately, you are going to have to ask for your bill to be adjusted because they aren’t going to lower it if you don’t complain about it. If you can’t use it, you shouldn’t be paying for it!
Only subscribe during certain times of the year:
Are you one of those people (like me) who could easily cut the cord completely if it wasn’t for live sports or just certain shows that air only a couple months out of the year? Consider only subscribing to your service on those months where you need the subscription. I know a number of people that only have a subscription during the seasons of certain sports and they save a ton of money that way. Of course if you sign up for a contract you really don’t have that option but if you have a provider that doesn’t require a contract, this could be a great way to save a ton of money!
Threaten to quit:
This is my personal favorite way to save money on your cable bill. If you see that your cable company is offering a fantastic price to new customers or just some other special, call them up and rant and rave about your problems with them and tell them you want your service disconnected. You will typically be sent to their customer retention people who will offer you a much better deal than you currently have to keep you. They may or may not be able to give you the new customer price but they should be able to reduce your bill quite a bit for 6 or 12 months if not more. Sometimes they will even throw in a better package or premium channels to keep you. I have personally saved hundreds a year this way but there is one thing to beware of. Some companies track people that do this and will only let you do this like 3 times in a row before you have to suffer through the full price for a couple of months before you can do this again. From personal experience, I have found I can do this 3 times in a row on Comcast before they catch on and make me pay full price for a while but your mileage may vary. This trick is a great way to lower your bill and let the company know what you really think of their service but don’t be too much of a jerk because the guy on the other end of phone isn’t responsible for your problems and doesn’t deserve your rage.
Cut the cord completely
Finally, if you really want to stop paying for cable, then stop! With options like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Roku and many other services, it has never been easier to tell the cable company to shove it and not give up watching your favorite shows. There are tons of legal options for watching the shows you like for a lot less such as Netflix and Hulu which are $8/mo and Amazon Instant Video which is included with your Amazon Prime account that will let you watch all or at least most of your favorite shows for a fraction of what you are paying for cable. Of course there are less than legal means of watching the shows you want but you really should pay for what you want to watch. If it is worth your time, it is worth your money too!
Do you have any advice for how people can save money on their cable or satellite service? Share them in the comments below!
Make sure to sign up for our newsletter on the right too so you don’t miss tips like these in the future!