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RISMedia, May 28 2011—Don’t let today’s high gas prices keep you at home this Memorial Day Weekend or put the kibosh on a summer road trip, says the Alliance to Save Energy. Nationwide, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas is currently more than $3.80—that’s lower than a week ago or a month ago, but about a dollar more than last year at this time.

Those gas expenditures can add up, observes Alliance President Kateri Callahan: “The Alliance to Save Energy has calculated that the average U.S. household will spend about $3,500 to power its vehicles this year—$800 more than last year. That can be a burdensome amount for many Americans. But simple fuel efficiency measures can keep more dollars in your pocket and even extend the life of your vehicle.”

Smart Vehicle Maintenance:

• Tune up. Fixing a car that’s out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent. Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.

• Keep tires properly inflated to improve mileage by up to 3.3 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires. In addition, proper inflation improves tire longevity – and your safety while driving. DOE cautions not to go by the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall, but to find the proper tire pressure for your own vehicle on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in the glove box, as well as in your owner’s manual.

• Use the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil or risk lowering your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. For example, says DOE, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can depress mileage by 1-2 percent; and using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower mileage by 1-1.5 percent. DOE also advises looking for the phrase “Energy Conserving” on the American Petroleum Institute performance symbol to ensure that the oil contains friction-reducing additives.

• Get the junk out of the trunk. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle. An extra 100 pounds your vehicle’s trunk could reduce your mileage by up to 2 percent.

• Also avoid a loaded roof rack, which can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent.

Smart Driving:

• Avoid aggressive driving. Speeding, rapid acceleration and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.

• Avoid speeding. Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour. Each five mph over 60 is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.

• Avoid idling. Idling gets 0 miles per gallon. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines.

• Use cruise control. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas and money.

• And don’t forget to engage the overdrive gear. With overdrive gearing, your car’s engine speed goes down, saving gas and reducing engine wear.

• Plan your trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

• Beat the traffic. When possible, drive during off-peak hours to avoid stop and go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions, thereby reducing both gas costs and stress.

Smart Commuting:

• Consider alternatives to driving. Take advantage of carpools and ride-share programs to cut your weekly fuel costs in half and save wear on your car if you take turns driving with other commuters. Many urban areas allow vehicles with multiple passengers to use High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, which are typically less congested, further improving your fuel economy.

• Consider using public transit if it is available and convenient for you. The American Public Transit Transportation Association has links to information about public transportation in your state.

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