Seven Smart Ways to Save Gas Now

The turbulence in the Middle East shows no signs of letting up, which means that we can expect the volatility in gas prices to continue as well. Oil is already at $100 a barrel. Gas prices could once again hit $4 a gallon this summer. Ouch.

There are some smart ways to address the gas crunch, and some dumb ones. In the long run - Smart: Make America’s cars more fuel-efficient, because we guzzle a lot of oil compared to other countries, making this the best way to insulate ourselves from the global market. Dumb: More risky offshore drilling, because we don’t own or control anywhere near as much oil as OPEC (as I reminded a House Committee this week) which means their spigots will always trump ours in the global market.

What can we do right away? Smart: Take off your roof racks. Dumb: Draft behind a semi on the highway.

In the long run, we need policies that break our oil dependence, like increasing fuel economy standards, creating incentives to buy and build electric cars, and investing in public transit. And Americans need to ease their pain at the pump right now. Here are seven smart ways you can save gas today:

1.    Check your tire pressure. A lot of us drive around with underinflated tires.
2.    Tune up your engine.
3.    Use motor oil with the “Energy Conserving” label.
4.    Take junk out of the trunk, and remove roof racks.
5.    Slow down. Driving 65 instead of 75 on highways uses 15 percent less gas.
6.    Cut the engine if you’re stopped for more than 30 seconds.
7.    Drive less. Bundle your errands, and try to telecommute, carpool or take public transit once a week. Or even once a month.

These steps can put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket, and trim global warming pollution, too.