Fuel conservation easiest on your wallet

Between rising gas prices and a struggling economy, consumers are cringing in anticipation of their next trip to the gas station. While it can cost up to $35 to fill the tank in some cases, people still have to commute, drive kids back and forth from school and run what seems to be endless errands.

According to a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 65 percent of American consumers plan to change driving habits as a result of rising costs of fuel.

“With gas prices hitting more than two dollars a gallon in some parts of the country, consumers say they feel compelled to change their behavior to cope,” said automotive industry expert John McElroy.

It’s easy to incorporate fuel conservation into daily life. Try following these seven tips, which could result in fewer trips to the pump-and more money in your wallet:

1. Be Cool. Park in the shade as often as possible and roll down the windows while driving. This will keep the car naturally cooler. Using the air conditioner burns fuel at a faster rate.

2. Drive 55. The optimal speed for fuel efficiency is 55 mph. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a vehicle loses about one percent in fuel economy for each one mile per hour driven above 55 mph.

3. Make sure your wheels are in good shape. Wheels that are improperly aligned or inflated can worsen a car’s gas mileage considerably.

4. Consolidate trips. Run errands on your way to or from work, or while you are already out on the road to reduce the number of trips you make with your car.

5. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Making sudden starts and stops is detrimental in achieving optimal gas mileage. Whenever possible, allow extra space between you and other cars in order to make gradual stops and accelerations.

6. Don’t sit idle. Keeping your car idle while stopped for a long period of time burns more gas than required to restart the car. When sitting in your car for long periods of time turn your engine off.

7. Maintain optimal RPMs. Drivers with manual transmissions or “overdrive” gears should up shift once they’ve reached the appropriate speed, in order to keep the car’s RPM at the optimal rate.

If you’re in the market for a new car, you may consider making fuel efficiency a factor in your decision.