13 Eco-Conscious Ways to Save Money on Gas

If you must spend on gas, these tips can help you save big time.

Sign at a gas station of gasoline over $4.00 per gallon.

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While burning fossil fuels is doing irreparable damage to our planet, many people have no choice but to continue using gasoline to get to work, collect trash, drive ambulances, and perform other essential functions. Rising gas prices, however, have turned many people's attention to reducing the amount of gasoline they burn—for both economic and environmental reasons.

The following 13 tips not only dramatically cut your gas bill—they also help you help the planet by reducing your carbon footprint.

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Tweak Your Lifestyle

Legs of a young businesswoman on a bicycle
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Of course, the most sustainable choice is to avoid buying gas altogether. Take public transport, walk, or bike to your destinations whenever possible.

If you're able, plan for and invest in an electric vehicle. Not only are EVs better for the environment than gas cars, a 2020 report estimated that they can save you up to 60% in fuel costs.

Did You Know?

Every gallon of fuel you burn emits roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Over the course of a year, the average passenger car is driven 11,467 miles, burns 474 gallons of gas, and emits 9,480 pounds of CO2.

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Turn Off the A/C

Person hand setting the temperature of air conditioner in the car

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Roll your windows down. Turning off the A/C can reduce your fuel consumption and carbon emissions by up to 20%. Also, before you turn off your car, turn off the A/C. It takes less fuel to start the car the next time if the engine doesn't have to immediately start the HVAC system.

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Use Recirculation

Driver adjusting the HVAC settings in a car

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If you do use your A/C, use the recirculating function, which closes the air vents. The A/C then only cools the air already in the cabin, which takes a lot less energy (and, thus, fuel) than cooling hot air coming in from the outside. It also saves your HVAC system a lot of stress, likely resulting in it lasting longer overall.

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Drive a Cool Car

Car parked in the shade

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In the summer, try to find shady spots to park in, that way you can start driving in a cooler car than one that's been baking in the sun all day. When you turn the car on, first roll the windows down for a few minutes to let the hot air escape before you turn on the A/C.

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Reduce Idling

A sign on a post saying stop idling

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Although not many people do it, it's helpful to turn your car off while waiting in the school drop-off line or sitting in morning traffic. The Argonne National Laboratory recommends turning off the engine if you'll be idling for 10 seconds or more. Idling cars waste a half gallon per hour.

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Inflate Your Tires

Checking and adjusting tire pressure on a vehicle

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Inflating your tires to their proper air pressure reduces friction and fuel use, increases the life of your tires, and decreases the amount of particulate matter (i.e., pollution) released into the atmosphere. Proper air pressure increases your gas mileage by 0.6%, on average, and in some cases up to 3%. Over the course of the year, this means purchasing up to 14 fewer gallons of gasoline (the equivalent of 344 fewer miles driven) and emitting 284 fewer pounds of CO2, compared to driving with poorly inflated tires.

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Change Your Oil

Changing the oil in a vehicle

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Regularly changing the oil increases a car's efficiency by reducing the amount of friction on the engine. This helps the car run more efficiently and improves your gas mileage by up to 2%.

Over the course of the year, that means purchasing up to 10 fewer gallons of gasoline (the equivalent of 229 fewer miles driven) and emitting 190 fewer pounds of CO2, compared to driving with dirty oil.

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Drive Safely

Hand holding steering wheel in a Car
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It should go without saying: Slow down when approaching a red light, and accelerate gradually when the light turns green. Eliminating aggressive driving can improve your gas mileage by 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic and 15% to 30% at highway speeds.

Using the U.S. Department of Energy's assumption that 55% of driving is city driving (or 6,306 miles per year), driving safely in stop-and-go traffic can save you from purchasing up to 104 gallons of gas per year and emitting 2,086 fewer pounds of CO2, compared to driving aggressively.

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Drive Slowly

Close-up of a cruise control button

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On highways, resist the urge to speed and instead maintain a steady pace of 55 miles per hour. According to the DOE, fuel efficiency starts to plummet when you surpass the 50-mph mark. "For light-duty vehicles, for example, every five mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying $0.18 more per gallon of gas," it says, and that's based on the price of gas being $2.63 per gallon. At one point in 2022, gas prices were nearly double that.

Reducing your speed by just five or 10 mph can improve fuel economy by up to 14%.

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Plan Your Trips

Car packed with groceries

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Saving money on gas is sometimes as simple as getting organized and planning out your errands ahead of time. You can reduce the number of trips you take by combining them, for example, or spend less time idling by avoiding rush hour. If you're going an unfamiliar route, make sure there isn't any construction or traffic incidents that could hold you up.

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Schedule Refuels Strategically

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According to GasBuddy, Wednesday and Thursday are the worst days of the week to refuel. Mondays and Fridays are the best days, according to the app's 2022 data. Of course, avoid the gas station completely ahead of and during holiday weekends.

Also, though contested, some say it's best to refuel in the morning—as the day warms up, gasoline expands and vaporizes more easily. In any case, you should try to pump it slowly if you can. Pumping gas quickly increases the amount of vapor that's created. The more vapor you pump, the less liquid gas goes into your tank, and the less you're getting for your money.

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Refuel Frequently

A close-up of a car being filled with gas

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Empty space in a tank leaves room for evaporation, so you want to keep your vehicle topped up as much as possible. Yes, avoid the most expensive days—Wednesday and Thursday—but GasBuddy says every other day the prices are good enough for a top-up.

Not only will this save you money from reducing evaporation, it will also prevent you from rushing to the nearest, perhaps more expensive gas station when your fuel runs too low to choose a cheap option.

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Use an App

A phone app identifying gas stations

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Apps like GasBuddy and Waze make finding cheap fuel easy. Both use crowdsourced user submissions to give you the most updated price information. The former includes information for more than 150,000 gas stations across the U.S.

You can also help other people find the cheapest gas by participating in the apps. It takes but a second to report a price you've found at the pump.

View Article Sources
  1. Harto, Chris. "Electric Vehicle Ownership Costs: Today's Electric Vehicles Offer Big Savings for Consumers." Consumer Reports. 2020.

  2. "Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle." United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  3. "Average Annual Fuel Use by Vehicle Type." United States Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center. 2020.

  4. "Average Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled by Major Vehicle Category." United States Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center. 2020.

  5. Alani, W.K., et al. “Enhancing the Fuel Saving and Emissions Reduction of Light-Duty Vehicle by a New Design of Air Conditioning Worked by Solar Energy.” Case Studies in Thermal Engineering.

  6. "Stop Idling. Start $aving." United States Department of Energy.

  7. "Keeping Your Vehicle in Shape." U.S. Department of Energy.

  8. "Sensible driving saves more gas than drivers think." Oak Ridge National Laboratory. 2017.

  9. "FOTW #1251, August 15, 2022: Electric Vehicles Have the Lowest Annual Fuel Cost of All Light-Duty Vehicles." U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. 2022.

  10. "Techniques for Drivers to Conserve Fuel." U.S. Department of Energy.

  11. "What Is the Cheapest Day of the Week to Buy Gas in 2022?" GasBuddy.