Driving tips to help reduce your summer fuel costs

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Whether you are taking a trip this summer or just running errands around town, there are steps you can take to improve your fuel efficiency and save money on fuel in the summertime.

No matter the price of gas, maximizing your vehicle’s fuel economy just makes good sense for reducing global climate change and conserving a non-renewable resource, according to a recent segment of MotorWeek Television. Today’s vehicles are equipped with fuel-saving technologies, but there is plenty you can do to get the most miles per gallon from whatever you drive.

Chicago Area Clean Cities, a nonprofit coalition focused on promoting cleaner energy for commercial and municipal fleets in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, offers these tips to help you improve fuel efficiency in the summer:

• Read your owner’s manual for detailed information on how your vehicle’s air-conditioning system works and how to use it efficiently.
• Park your vehicle in shady areas or use a sunshade to keep the interior from getting too hot.
• Do not use the AC more than needed or set the temperature lower than needed.
• If you are driving at high speeds, use the AC instead of rolling down the windows. If the vehicle is too hot, you may lower the car windows to release hot air for the first few minutes. Once the hot air has left the vehicle, switch to using the AC.
• Avoid excessive idling. Idling can use a quarter to half a gallon of fuel per hour, and even more if the AC is on. Do not idle the vehicle to cool it down before a trip; most AC systems actually cool the vehicle faster while driving.
• Use cruise control while driving on highways to maintain a consistent speed and conserve fuel.
• Remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle. Vehicles with heavier loads tend to have reduced fuel economy. An additional 100 pounds in your vehicle can reduce fuel economy by one percent.
• Avoid transporting cargo on the rooftop of the vehicle. Traveling with cargo on the roof increases wind resistance and can significantly lower a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Rear-mounted cargo has a much smaller effect on fuel economy than rooftop cargo.
• Avoid aggressive driving. Aggressive driving (speeding, quick acceleration and heavy braking) can reduce fuel economy by as much as 33 percent at highway speeds and 5 percent at city speeds.
• Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Tires that are not inflated to the proper pressure can reduce fuel economy by 0.3 percent for every one-pound per square inch (PSI) drop in pressure in all of the tires. Having your tires inflated to the proper pressure is also safer and can help tires last longer.
• Pay attention to the speed limit. Not only is this a safe practice, but also gas mileage tends to decrease when driving at speeds above 50 miles per hour.

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