Fuelishness! -- The FuelClinic.com Blog

Gas Pump Taking Bigger Chunk of Your Check

If you’ve been paying much attention to the news, you’ll notice gas prices are again on the rise, and are on course to set records again this year. Even with the economy sputtering and many people out of work, fuel costs costs the average household just under four percent of their income, before taxes, according to the EIA.

…[T]he U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday that gasoline expenditures in 2012 for the average U.S. household reached $2,912, or just under 4 percent of income before taxes. This was the highest estimated percentage of household income spent on gasoline in nearly three decades, with the exception of 2008, when the average household spent a similar amount. Gasoline prices averaged $3.63 a gallon in 2012, according to EIA.

Market researchers blame tightening of demand, refinery maintenance, and the other usual suspects. The markets rallied around the rising crude oil prices, and drove them higher before investors decided to take profits and sell off their futures.

California is hardest hit with some of the nations highest prices. Demand is outpacing supply on the left coast, which is ironic, since California sits atop one of the largest shale oil deposits in the country. But even if that oil could be produced (technically it could, politically it doesn’t work out so well), there are no new refineries in the area to turn that crude into fuel.

Which leaves the average motorist at the mercy of the pump and stuck in traffic. Sitting in traffic is costing us 5.5 billion hours a year – and an estimate 121 billion dollars in “wasted time” and fuel. Not hard to imagine, given that any car idling in traffic gets zero mpg while it sits with the engine running.

But, you are not entirely powerless. Get creative about methods for reducing travel (is teleworking an option), share a ride when it works out, time your trips to avoid the heaviest congestion (go into the office early, and leave early if it’s an option), and when all else fails, adopt simple and effective eco-driving skills to make sure you put good use to every drop of fuel you are buying. Even if you are not “green” minded, it will make you a safer driver – which means a cheaper to insure driver, might help you become a happier person, and will certainly allow you to keep a little more of the money you earn from feeding the gas pump.



Across Europe, Irking Drivers Is Urban Policy

Source: Smart Blog

While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

Cities including Vienna to Munich and Copenhagen have closed vast swaths of streets to car traffic. Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs. Drivers in London and Stockholm pay hefty congestion charges just for entering the heart of the city. And over the past two years, dozens of German cities have joined a national network of “environmental zones” where only cars with low carbon dioxide emissions may enter.

Likeminded cities welcome new shopping malls and apartment buildings but severely restrict the allowable number of parking spaces. On-street parking is vanishing. In recent years, even former car capitals like Munich have evolved into “walkers’ paradises,” said Lee Schipper, a senior research engineer at Stanford University who specializes in sustainable transportation.

Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/27/science/earth/27traffic.html



Five ways you can get better fuel mileage, starting right now…

Have you ever been driving along without a care in the world, then you glance down at the fuel gauge and notice that the needle is below the empty mark? You’ve forgotten to fill-up, and you are not sure how much gas is left in the tank… you know where the next gas station is, but it’s not very close…

You lift your foot off the gas pedal a little, slow to a more gingerly pace, coast up to stop lights just hoping that it will turn green before you have to stop, then you slowly accelerate trying to get every last quarter-mile from those last few quarts of gas sloshing around at the bottom of your tank.

Congratulations! You just became an instant eco-driver, no special training required.

But you don’t have to be motivated by the anxiety of being stranded at the side of the road in order to improve your fuel mileage considerably, and as often as you wanted to. The same “techniques” that you instinctively understood would help you with a near-empty fuel tank can also help you go much further on every gallon of gasoline you buy.

Here are the top five techniques that are proven to work on every vehicle.

  1. Accelerate Gradually – You don’t need to hold up traffic or drive like you left your coffee on the roof. Just accelerate more gradually than normal. Be the slowest off the line, and relax knowing that you are going to get to the next stoplight in about the same amount of time as everyone else.
  2. Leave Your Aggression Curbside – We’ve all done this. You are in a rush, you didn’t leave early enough to give yourself enough time to account for traffic, and traffic has been slow. You are tailgating the knucklehead in front of you hoping that he’ll move out of your way. The first chance you get you dart over to the fast lane and “make up time” with a little extra lead in your foot. You may think you’re making time, but studies show that drivers who time lights and traffic patterns arrive at their destinations sooner than drivers who drive aggressively. Relax, leave a few minutes early, stop jockeying for “position” with the cars around you, and you’ll find you arrive on time, in a better mood, and with more gas left in the tank.
  3. Avoid Stopping – Don’t try to tell Officer Friendly that you were saving gas by rolling through stop signs, they can’t be avoided. But the proper timing of lights and traffic patterns like smoothly merging into traffic can go a long way to helping you maintain your momentum. Any amount of momentum you can keep means less work needed to re-accelerate. Avoiding having to start from a total stop will save fuel every time. This takes a little bit of practice to get right, but with a little effort you’ll be negotiating traffic like a pro.
  4. Loose the Need For Speed – It’s simple physics. The drag on your vehicle increases with speed. The more drag, the more work your engine needs to do to maintain or increase that speed. Work = Fuel. Sure your speedometer on your car goes all the way up to 150 MPH, and the traffic on most major highways zips along above the posted speed limit, but neither is an excuse for not slowing things down a bit if you want to save money on fuel. Stay out of the way of all those filthy rich people who have money to burn, move over to the slow lane, and enjoy the warm feeling of giving “big oil” the bird as you continue to drive to your destination – on your terms.
  5. No Excessive Idling – This one is a little different, and not my favorite. I don’t recommend turning your vehicle off at stop lights or when you are engaged in stop and go traffic, unless it’s clear that you are in a backup that isn’t going to be moving for many minutes on end. Even then, re-starting a car with a hot battery and hot starter can sometimes be iffy (especially in older cars). The last place you want to be stranded is in the middle of a backup. But there are times when idling is done excessively, more often out of laziness or poor planning. Idling gets exactly zero miles per gallon. Idling in a drive-thru lane is costing you money. You might want to park and walk inside instead. Idling while you eat lunch and listen to the radio is another way to waste gas. Idling to “warm up” your car is a waste, unless it’s winter, and you want the heat to work.

There you have it – five top ways to improve your fuel economy. Most drivers can easily improve 10%, some may get up to 25% or more, depending on how terrible their driving habits were to start with. You can track your progress for free on http://www.fuelclinic.com and see for yourself.

There are 15 more eco-driving tips online at: http://www.fuelclinic.com/eco-driving-tips/

And don’t let the “eco” turn you off, manly-men can eco-drive too!



Congratulations to iCarpool for winning the ITS Congestion Challenge

The much anticipated announcement was made earlier today at the 16th World Congress on ITS , and online at the ITSA website.

STOCKHOLM – 23 Sept. 2009: The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Spencer Trask Collaborative Innovations (STCI), and partners announced the results of the ITS Congestion Challenge, a global competition to find the best ideas for reducing traffic congestion.

The three organizations announced the selection of iCarpool.com at the 16th World Congress on ITS in Stockholm. iCarpool.com, headquartered in Issaquah, WA, won the competition among more than 116 entries from 20 countries. The organization will receive a cash investment of $50,000 USD, which will be used for further development of its solution.

For more info on the ITS Congestion Challenge and the other finalists please see the full Press Release – PDF

We here at FuelClinic would like to say “Well done!” and congratulations to iCarpool on their 1st place finish.

Read the entire press release (pdf).



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