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Ten Ways to Save Money at the Gas Pump

Worried about the high cost of gas? You've got good reason. The Bush Administration has warned that gasoline and other energy prices (which were already on the rise) shot up after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and are likely to remain high for several years. The President has even gone so far as to recommend that Americans attempt to conserve energy.

The best way to avoid spending more on gas than you need to? Keep all of these tips in mind:

1. Drive Smart! When you drive aggressively, you waste gas and put others at risk. Observe the speed limit, avoid rapid acceleration and braking, and maintain a constant speed on the road.

2. Keep Your Car in Shape. A well-tuned car burns less gasoline. So make sure that you get your oil and air filters changed regularly, and that your tires are always properly inflated.

3. Change Your Commute. Sitting in rush hour traffic burns gas and gets you nowhere. If possible, adjust your work schedule so that you avoid rush hour traffic. Even better, and if your employer allows it, think about telecommuting. If you can't telecommute full-time, try for one or two days a week.

4. Use Public Transportation. Look into the public-transportation options in your area, and use them as much as possible.

5. Try to Combine Errands. According to the Department of Energy, several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer, multipurpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.

6. Go for a Ride or Walk. Rather than drive your car to the corner store or a friend's house, walk or ride your bike there. Studies show that this approach has the added advantage of reducing your risk of heart disease.

7. Carpool. Carpool or use ride-share programs if you can. This might also enable you to shorten the time of your commute by using High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes.

8. Pack Light. According to the Department of Energy, a loaded roof rack on your car can decrease fuel economy by approximately five percent. Also, every 100 pounds you carry in a car reduces a typical car's fuel economy by one to two percent. So, when you go on vacation or a long car trip, put everything you can inside your vehicle, and pack light

9. Think Hybrid. The most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road today are hybrid-electric cars. A hybrid combines an electric motor with a conventional, but cleaner, gasoline-powered engine. Over its lifetime, a 50-mile per gallon hybrid Toyota Prius will use half as much gas, and release half as much global-warming pollution, as a 23-mpg Pontiac Grand
Prix. Hot Tip: If you purchase a hybrid in 2006, you may be eligible for a new federal tax credit (as opposed to the previous tax deduction) that could be worth as much as $3,000.

10. Consider Sharing. Rather than buy a new car, sign up for membership with a car-sharing program such as Flexcar or Zipcar. These programs allow you to reserve and drive cars by the hour -- and they cover the cost of the vehicle, insurance, gas, parking, and maintenance.

Bonus: Write Your Leaders. Urge them to raise fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon. Modern technology can make our cars and trucks go farther on a gallon of gas. Taking this step would save nearly 4 million barrels of oil a day -- more oil than we currently import from the Persian Gulf or could ever extract from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge combined. And by saving on gas, you would save nearly $2,000 at the pump over the life of your car.