1. Avoid aggressive drivingJack-rabbit starts and sudden braking can cost you big time. Aggressive driving can reduce your fuel efficiency by one-third when you're on the highway and 5 percent when you're tooling around town, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Forceful driving can also accelerate the chances that you'll get in a wreck, and is particularly dangerous if you're driving in inclement weather, Quinn says. One way to put the brakes on bad behavior is by signing up for an auto insurer's pay-as-you-drive program, such as Progressive's Snapshot or Allstate's Drivewise. They monitor how you drive, when you drive and how much you drive, and your good behavior can earn you a pay-as-you-drive discount on your car insurance premiums. Progressive last year analyzed 10 million miles worth of driving data gathered from its Snapshot program, and found the average car insurance discount was 10 percent to 15 percent per year.
2. Watch your speedAnother way to boost fuel economy is to observe the speed limit. Not only should that shield you from a speeding ticket, it may help lower your fuel costs.
3. Use cruiseWhen you're ready to hit the open road, be sure to make use of your vehicle's cruise control. A study by the automotive website Edmunds.com tested two different cars at two different times on a 56-mile loop in California. The study found that using cruise control smoothed out acceleration and resulted in fuel savings of between 7 and 14 percent.
4. Don't be idleIf you're waiting to pick up your kids after school, or your passenger needs to run into a convenience store, be sure to turn off your vehicle. There's also no need to spend a lot of time warming up your car in the morning. Each hour your car spends idling burns between a quarter- and a half-gallon of fuel, according to the Department of Energy (DOE). It's more fuel efficient to turn off the vehicle if you'll be sitting for at least a minute, and then turn it on again when you're ready to roll.
5. Be a stickler for proper maintenanceIt pays to keep your car in top shape and proper vehicle maintenance can help reduce fuel costs. Check your tire pressure regularly, Quinn says, and perform all your car manufacturer's recommended maintenance, such as tune-ups and oil changes. Low tire pressure can cause damage, and a clogged air filter can reduce fuel efficiency. The California Energy Commission claims a dirty air filter and underinflated tires can inflate fuel costs by up to 13 percent.
6. Lose the weightIf you're heading out on a road trip or even motoring around town, be sure not to overload your vehicle. Don't drive around with your regular tires in the back once you've put on your snow tires, or keep heavy sporting equipment in the trunk for occasional use. That extra weight adds up to extra fuel consumption, according to the DOE. Hauling around just an extra 100 pounds can reduce your car's mpg by up to 1 percent. The additional weight has more of an impact on a smaller car than a larger one. It's an even bigger problem if you haul cargo on your roof. A roof-top cargo box can lower fuel economy by up to 8 percent in city traffic, up to 17 percent on the highway and up to 25 percent if you're cruising along on the interstate, the DOE says. You may be better off using a cargo box that attaches to the rear of your vehicle, which should have a smaller impact on fuel economy.
7. Skip extra trips
Another way to save on gas consumption is to plan out your errands in advance. Instead of running to the grocery store when you think of something you need, stop while you're on your way home from work.
Or set aside your Saturday morning and plan to do all your errands at one time.
If possible, park in one central location and walk from spot to spot.