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Tackling rising gas prices

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Every year gas prices tend to increase during the spring and summer months because of increasing demand. As people start to enjoy the warmer weather by enjoying travel and recreational activities, demand for gasoline increases and so does the price.

It can be difficult to immediately change your lifestyle to adapt to higher gas prices; however, there are several ways you can reduce your expenditures on gasoline:

•Make a list of your errands before heading out of the house. Plan the errands in order, so that you are not wasting both time and gasoline by driving all over town.

•Clean out your car. Excess weight in a vehicle, trunk or bed of a truck can reduce gas mileage.

•If you have a long commute to work, talk with your co-workers about starting a carpool.  Many large employers will offer certain benefits for employees who carpool, such as making a vehicle available to employees in case of an emergency.

•Review your Memorial Day or summer vacation plans.  Time off is important, so instead of cancelling your trip, take advantage of some of the great vacation spots around Kentucky.

In addition to making some adjustments to your lifestyle, you might also consider making adjustments to your driving style.  Regardless of the type of vehicle you drive, there are certain steps you can take to improve your gas mileage.

According to the United States Department of Energy:

•Aggressive driving can lower your highway gas mileage by 33 percent. Avoid high speeds, rapid acceleration and hard braking. 

•Think twice before adding a roof rack for recreational activities or summer travel.  A loaded roof rack can reduce fuel economy by 5 percent. 

•Follow your manufacture suggestions for recommended maintenance, including using the recommended motor oil. Using a different oil type can reduce your gasoline mileage by 1 to 2 percent.

•Proper tire inflation can improve your gas mileage by 3.3 percent.  The correct tire pressure for your vehicle can be found either on a sticker on the driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual.  

•Consider getting your car a tune up. Fixing problems, such as an oxygen sensor can make a big difference in your miles per gallon, improving your MPG by possibly as much as 40 percent. 

Reference: U.S. Department of Energy, www.fueleconomy.gov

Source: Jennifer Hunter, Extension Specialist for Family Financial Management, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services