5 Ways to Save Money on Gas This Summer

For some reason, each time gas prices go up, the majority of us cringe. We know that gas prices will continue to rise and fall, and in the summer, they often rise. Yet there is something so frustrating about driving to the pump and expecting it to cost a certain amount per gallon only to see that it has jumped 5, 10, or even 20 cents or more per gallon overnight.

The change in gas prices reflects the changes in the cost of crude oil, but weather events, exchange rates, inventory, spare capacity, production, and more can also affect the price. With so many variables to consider, it can be hard to predict gas prices, and the fluctuating costs can be difficult on consumers, particularly in the summer, when many people take road trips or spend a lot of time driving to and from different activities. Luckily, there are some clear ways to save money on gas. Here are just five tips.

1. Follow the speed limit

It can be tempting to speed when you are on an empty highway or if you are running late. However, when you drive fast, your fuel efficiency usually goes down. Vehicles reach their optimal fuel economy at different speeds, but mileage decreases quickly once you start driving above around 55 miles per hour. According to the Consumer Energy Center, each 5 miles per hour you drive over 60 miles per hour is like paying an extra 21 cents per gallon for gas (this is based on a cost of $3 per gallon; the national average as of May 11 is $3.654 per gallon). While speeding might get you to your destination quicker, it will cost you gas and quite possibly an expensive speeding ticket.

Speeding is also dangerous and costly. In 2011, 9,080 driver or motorcycle fatalities were related to driving too fast for the conditions or driving above the posted speed limit (this represents 20.8 percent). Speeding continues to be a contributing factor in many crashes. If possible, stay at a consistent speed when driving on a highway or road with a set speed limit.

2. Drive reasonably

In addition to speeding, being a careful and responsible driver is another way to save money. If you accelerate too quickly, you will waste gas. In addition, changing lanes quickly (especially frequently) and breaking quickly also waste gas. According to the Department of Energy, these behaviors can cut your mileage by as much as 33 percent while driving at highway speeds.

In addition to saving money on gas, driving safely will also protect you. Not only will you be less likely to get in a wreck if you drive carefully, pay attention to others, and avoid angry driving, but you will also hopefully avoid dealing with other irate drivers, as well. At least 1,500 people are killed or injured in road-rage related accidents each year.

3. Pick the right time to visit the gas pump

Believe it or not, the time that you go to the pump will actually make a difference in how much you pay. If you notice gas going up around town, then you probably want to fill up quickly. You also might benefit from watching the news for impending gas hikes. Wednesdays are usually a good day of the week to buy gas because the weekend price has gone down and it hasn’t gone back up yet in preparation for the next weekend.

Some people will suggest that you buy gasoline in the morning because when it is cool, it will be denser, as well. However, while gas does expand a little based on temperature, most filling stations store their gasoline in underground tanks, so the time of day that you purchase the gas won’t matter. Still, you can try this trick if you want — it won’t hurt, and you might be more comfortable filling up in the morning of a hot day anyway.

4. Fill up at your grocery store

If your grocery store of choice has a gas station and you can accumulate points by shopping, then you should do it. Many grocery stores give points for purchases, and every time you accumulate enough points, you get a certain amount of money off the store’s gasoline prices. For example, if you spend $100, you might get 10 cents off per gallon, and many stores allow consumers to gain points all month — you might be able to accrue 20, 30, or even 40 cents off per gallon.

You can maximize this benefit by purchasing as much as possible at the store. If you need gift cards, see if your grocery store has them. Many sell gift cards to several different restaurants and other stores, and you will probably still accrue gas points. If you don’t have a grocery store with a point system and gas station nearby, then at least consider looking for a credit card with gas points.

5. Compare gas prices

Although it probably won’t be worth the gas you will use to drive across town to save 2 cents per gallon, if you compare gas prices across town and see a big difference, it might be worth making the trip. You can use a site like GasBuddy.com to compare prices. If you’re planning a road trip, knowing the cost at several different gas stations on the way could be an easy way to save money without sacrificing convenience.

Although comparing prices might help you, be sure to look at how recently the gas prices were updated on the site of your choice. If the price hasn’t been updated for 24 hours, the gas station might not have the same price per gallon now. In addition, remember to factor in fuel points at your grocery store or any rewards cards you have: the savings might not be as big if you don’t factor in these gas-saving methods.

There are many other ways to save gas this summer, but these are five of the biggest ways. You might have to do some research to find the best prices and you also might have to make some changes in your driving habits, but if you want to, you can save money on gas this summer.

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