Taking the bus or riding a bike instead of driving constitutes a pretty big lifestyle change. Upgrading to a new hybrid or Smart Car amounts to a pretty big chunk of change as well.
Fortunately, there are smaller changes that you can make to save money at the gas pump.
One way to cut down on gas costs is to be more conscious of which pump you fill up at.
Since gas prices change constantly at each station, it can be hard to know where to find the cheapest gas.
Fortunately, the Internet has been keeping up with gas prices.
Some Valley residents are working together to keep each other in the know about shifting prices on the Web site www.arizonagasprices.com.
People visit the site and update gas prices at stations around their area so everyone knows where to find the cheapest gas.
Phoenix resident Paul Zarchin, 54, says using the site has become part of his life.
Zarchin said he visits the site daily, and will post prices from his local Costco if he remembers.
"Of course you're going to go where the price is lower," Zarchin said.
As long as it's convenient, going to stations with lower prices can help save some money on gas, Zarchin said.
Making little adjustments in driving habits can also have big results.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy provide several tips to conserve gas on their Web site, fueleconomy.gov.
Some fine-tuning of the way you drive can help save money on gas:
- Avoid idling.
- Don't drive aggressively. Cut down on braking and rapid acceleration.
- Use cruise control on highways.
- Don't speed. Fuel efficiency generally decreases at speeds above 60 mph.
Keeping your car running well can lead to better fuel efficiency:
- Inflate your tires to the proper level.
- Keep the air filter clean.
- Use the manufacturer-suggested grade of motor oil.
- Maintain the car's engine.
Paul Kikorian, manager of Purcell's Western States Tire, 3810 E. Ray Road, said maintaining your car can have a significant impact on how much you pay at the pump.
"They're going to notice if they're going to do the pretty basic things," Kikorian said, stressing that keeping the air filter clean and watching the air pressure in tires are easy ways to ensure that the vehicle is running at peak fuel efficiency.
"That's the big one," Kikorian said of tire pressure. "If you underinflate, you're going to use more gas."
Braving the Arizona heat and turning down the air conditioning during your commute can also save money.
"Air conditioning does use more gas by loading up the engine," Kikorian said.
Hey, no pain, no gain.
"Doing these simple maintenance things will help these vehicles run more efficiently," Kikorian said.
Ben Sandoval is interning this summer at the AFN. He is a junior at Arizona State University.