SOURCE: Alliance to Save Energy

November 06, 2008 13:06 ET

Whether Driving or Renting Vehicle at Destination, Holiday Travelers Can Cut Costs With Alliance to Save Energy's Drive $marter Challenge Website Resources

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - November 6, 2008) - Whether driving to "Grandmother's house" or anywhere else for the holidays, you can start saving money even before hitting the road with a little planning and basic vehicle maintenance. The Alliance to Save Energy's Drive $marter Challenge website offers extensive money-saving tips for travelers.

Even with the recent drop in gas prices, it's smart to continue practicing more fuel-efficient driving -- why spend more than you have to? It's also useful to remember that although driving in cold weather decreases a vehicle's fuel efficiency, drivers can empower themselves to reduce their gasoline costs with simple fuel-efficiency steps.

The Drive $marter Challenge website offers extensive resources that cover such questions as: Where can I find cheap gas along my travel route? Where can I rent a hybrid or fuel-efficient vehicle? What public transportation is available at my destination?

Before you leave: fuel efficiency maintenance tips

-- Check your tires more frequently in cold weather. Check tire pressure often, especially in cold weather, because pressure can drop one pound per square inch (PSI) for every 10-degree drop in temperature. Keeping your tires properly inflated is simple and improves gas mileage by around 3%.

-- Select the right oil. Using the manufacturer's recommended grade of motor oil, including re-refined motor oil, improves gas mileage by 1 to 2%, resulting in annual savings of up to $45. Motor oil that says "Energy Conserving" on the API performance symbol contains friction-reducing additives. Also, change your oil as recommended to extend the life of your vehicle; and remember to recycle the used oil, which can be re-refined, to save even more energy.

-- Tune up. Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4%.

Planning your trip

-- Are we there yet? Getting lost while driving in unfamiliar areas could lead to an expensive waste of gas. Resources on the Drive $marter Challenge website can help your family print a customized vacation map that highlights low-cost gas along your route.

-- Choose the right vehicle. If you own more than one vehicle, drive the one that gets better gas mileage if possible.

-- Request the right rental. If you are renting a vehicle at your destination, request one that gets better fuel economy, and remember to fill up the tank before returning the car to the rental company, which charges much higher gas prices.

-- Consider navigating with a GPS system. GPS systems can help you find your way and, increasingly, find low prices at nearby gas stations.

-- Rise and shine! When possible, drive during off-peak hours to reduce gas costs and stress by avoiding stop-and-go or bumper-to-bumper traffic conditions.

-- Consider alternative transportation options when you arrive. Investigate options for getting around at your destination -- public transportation, biking, walking, or ridesharing when possible.

-- Leaving your home unoccupied? The Alliance estimates that the average household will spend $6,050 to power homes and vehicles this year; and keeping your house warm this winter will be more expensive, with heating fuel prices expected to increase by 8 to 36 percent, depending on the fuel. So when you leave town, lower your thermostat and unplug appliances, home office equipment, and electronics to save on your energy bills. For more money-saving home energy efficiency tips, check out the Alliance's consumer website.

On the road again...

-- Decrease your speed. Speeding costs! Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for gas.

-- Drive sensibly. Speeding, rapid acceleration (jackrabbit starts), and rapid braking can lower gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds.

-- Use cruise control on highways. Cruise control cuts fuel consumption by maintaining a steady speed during highway driving.

-- Use overdrive gear when appropriate to reduce engine speed, which saves gas and reduces engine wear.

-- It's a "drag." Avoid carrying items on your vehicle's roof, including that mound of freshly fallen snow. A loaded roof rack or carrier increases weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut mileage by 5%. Also remove unnecessary items from the trunk whenever possible to improve your fuel economy.

-- Avoid idling, which gets 0 mpg. Letting your car idle to warm up doesn't help your fuel economy. In fact, it simply wastes fuel and creates unnecessary pollution.

To find out how to save hundreds of dollars a year on gas with your specific vehicle by taking six actions, go to Those who choose to take the challenge (1-6 driving and maintenance actions) can obtain discount vehicle maintenance coupons.

The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy, and national security.

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