Tips to improve fuel economy
• Don’t break the law. Obeying the speed limit can save you money. Typically, fuel economy decreases rapidly as a car reaches and surpasses 60 miles per hour. According to the U.S. Department of Safety, drivers can assume that each five miles per hour they drive over 60, they are paying an additional $0.26 per gallon for gas.
• Empty the trunk. Unnecessary cargo in a vehicle’s trunk drastically reduces fuel economy. An extra 100 pounds in a vehicle can reduce miles per gallon by as much as 2 percent.
• Stop idling. Many people let their car idle for several minutes on cold mornings. But newer vehicles don’t really need to idle to warm up, and idling can be very taxing on fuel economy. Depending on the size of the car, idling can use between a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour.
• Embrace cruise control on long drives without lots of stopping and starting. Maintaining a constant speed, which a vehicle does when drivers use cruise control, can help save fuel, as it’s less taxing on an engine to continue at one speed than it is to constantly switch back and forth between high and low speeds.
• Inflate the tires. Poorly inflated tires lower gas mileage and also pose a safety hazard. Properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage by as much as 3 percent.
• Drive the car you need, not the car you want. Drivers who truly need to save money at the pump should consider the type of vehicle they’re driving and whether it’s the car they need or the car they want.
— Special to the News
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says there is no easy answer to the problem of rising energy prices, and he’s dismissing Republican solutions as little more than gimmicks.
“We know there’s no silver bullet that will bring down gas prices or reduce our dependence on foreign oil overnight,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. “But what we can do is get our priorities straight and make a sustained, serious effort to tackle this problem.”
Oil prices are approaching last year’s highs as tensions increase over Iran’s nuclear program. The rise pushed gasoline prices Friday to a national average of $3.65 a gallon, the highest ever for this time of year. A spike in gas prices is normal in spring, but it came earlier than usual this year in large part because of world fears that the growing confrontation with Iran will crimp oil supplies. Iran is the world’s third-largest crude supplier.
Rising oil prices weigh on the economy, pushing leisure and business travel costs higher. Every 1-cent increase in the price of gasoline costs the economy $1.4 billion, analysts say.
Obama said Republicans have one answer to the oil pinch: drill.
“You know that’s not a plan, especially since we’re already drilling,” Obama said. “It’s a bumper sticker.”
Obama is pushing what he calls an “all-of-the-above” approach to the problem of limited energy resources, meaning an attempt to seek out alternative energy sources while reducing consumption of traditional fuels.
In the Republican address, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison blamed the rise in gasoline prices partly on the Obama administration, which she said has blocked some potential new sources of oil and gas.
“We can’t slow down global demand for oil and gas, but we can do a lot more here at home to assure that we have the energy we need and to halt skyrocketing costs,” she said. “President Obama’s policy has resulted in an unprecedented slowdown in new exploration and production of oil and gas.”
For all the political claims, economists say there’s not much a president of either party can do about gasoline prices — certainly not in the short term.
But it’s clear that people are concerned. A new Associated Press-GfK poll says seven in 10 Americans find the issue deeply important — so it’s sure to be a political issue through the summer.
The price of gasoline, which is made from crude oil, has soared with oil prices. The national average jumped by nearly 12 cents per gallon in a week, with state averages above $4 per gallon in California, Alaska and Hawaii.
At $3.65 per gallon, gasoline is still below last year’s high of $3.98 and the record $4.11 set in 2008.