As I skimmed through past articles from the local newspapers online, I came across this little jewel. An article by the Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc (CNHI) in the Kokomo Tribune about the conservation of gasoline to save money. The ONLY tips given to conserve gasoline are noted as checking your maintenance schedule, avoid aggressive driving and the list below:
• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive above 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon of gas.
• Remove excess weight. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, such as golf clubs or tool boxes. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your mileage by as much as 7 cents per gallon.
• Avoid excessive idling.
• Use the cruise control.
• Use your overdrive gears.
Nowhere does it mention using alternative modes of transportation. The article never mentions the words bus, train, bike or walk anywhere. Here is the problem. This generic article was most likely published in many other states, illustrating that as Americans we only look at solving problems with the most convenience. This article is a perfect example. The article’s impression is “We won’t give up the convenience of our vehicles, but we want to save the money we spend on powering them.” The result: an article on becoming a more efficient driver. Being an efficient driver isn’t enough, we need more radical changes. You might be able to save up to $1, by abiding by these “efficient rules,” but what will you do when gas prices rise to succumb that measly dollar saved?
The best way to save money and to conserve gasoline is to take more drastic measures to remove it from our lifestyle, like cutting down the amount of time spent in a car or by using other modes of transportation. A bike for instance might take more time to get to your location, but it also burns calories, reduces congestion, reduces road wear and tear (reduces amount of tax dollars needed for road repair) and saves more money than “observing the speed limit” in your car like CNHI suggests.
The amount of savings of using alternative transportation could easily be calculated. If you live close to where you work, walking and biking would be just as efficient. If you work further away from where you live, but live near a transit line, taking public transportation would definitely reduce the amount of fossil fuels being used. By using public transit, or using a bicycle for regular trips, a person could save $40+ per week by not using a personal vehicle. Imagine what you could spend with the money you could save by using public transit or a bicycle. If you spend as much as $40 per week and are able to use public transit or a bike for regular trips you could save around $2,000 each year. Also, where do you suppose your money goes when you guy a gallon of gasoline? Almost 75% of the money goes to crude oil extraction companies, mostly in Saudi Arabia or Russia. We are literally paying other countries so that we can drive our vehicles.
Becoming an efficient driver is not enough, cutting out excessive trips and by using alternative modes of transportation are more effective ways of saving money. But the article did get one aspect completely correct “we all must acknowledge we likely never will pay fewer than $3 per gallon for gasoline again.” With gas in the $3.90’s currently, I’d be extremely surprised to see gasoline fewer than $4 in the next coming months. And there it is: that $1 you saved by driving more efficiently is spent on gas.