Choices can help save gas money

Oil prices are skyrocketing. This isn’t big news. Every spring the country starts the uphill battle with high gas costs that usually peak in July and don’t start coming back down until school starts back up again.

This summer could hit an all-time high as the Detroit Free Press estimates summer prices exceeding $3 per gallon in Michigan and Ohio.

This is bad news for drivers everywhere.

Now is the time when a little smart driving will get you far, and might save you some money.

College students especially are at risk with summer jobs and internships, as well as road trips and visiting family. The cost can really add up.

So let me share a few tips from a tree-hugger that might keep you from going bankrupt filling up your gas tank.

To start out simple, let’s talk speed limits. You’ll learn in any environmental science course that there is a speed at which fuel burns most efficiently: It’s 55 mph. Not 65, not 75, and not 90. So unless you’re on a major road trip, leave the expressway behind and opt for a slightly smaller road with a lower speed limit.

Second, unless you live in the boondocks, put away those four wheel drive trucks and SUVs. There’s no shame in driving a smaller car during the summer. If you live in a larger town or city, you should even consider walking or riding your bike.

Trust me, riding a bike to work (as long as you don’t work in an office) will not put a glowing brand on your forehead that says “geek.”

Well, it might, but let’s get real, how many people whose opinions matter are going to care? Plus, your legs will get a killer workout.

Okay, so you’re taking the expressway and driving your Jeep to work.

How else can you avoid buying a tank of gas every day? Carpool. Yeah, I said it.

Volunteer to drive your buddies to work twice a week if they’ll pitch in for gas.

Chances are they’ll turn you down and opt for the guy driving the Grand Am (less gas money), but at least it’s worth a try.

Another option is to condense your trips. You’ve got errands to run (don’t we all).

Pay day is Friday, you’ve got to go the grocery store, your parents want you to come home for a weekend, your new cat needs to be de-clawed so you can get your pet deposit back and you have to find the time do all this.

One way to do it would be to pick one day for everything.

But what if you work in a small town where you can’t just do these things on your lunch break?

That’s when you have to learn the art of condensing.

So you get out of work on Friday, go to the bank and cash your check, drop your cat at off at the vet (de-clawing is an overnight procedure, they’ll keep the cat all weekend), head to your parents’ house for the weekend.

At the end of the weekend stop in for some groceries (Mom might even pick up the tab), head back to your apartment and pick the cat back up on the way. Voila!

The key is to make sure to plan all your errands for an “errand day.” That way you’re only paying to drive out to town and back once.

I know we’ve all heard many of these tips before and thought they were just ramblings.

Well, they’re not, and they should be taken seriously as we move forward into the transition away from oil.

While not everyone will be able to use all of these tips, everyone can use at least one.

Every little bit helps when it comes to gas prices, so remember these and try to save yourself some trouble (and some money) this summer.

Send comments to Amanda at [email protected].