5 Ways to Save Fuel and Money

During the 2011-2012 Snowbird Season Arizona RV parks reported their winter residents appeared to be staying longer than in previous years, partially due to high fuel prices.

The annual O’Odham Tash Celebration, a gathering of tribes, is held in mid-February and features Native American arts and crafts, ceremonial dances, rodeos, powwows, and parades. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With thousands of snowbirds planning to hit the road during the coming weeks and months, two things will be on their minds—arriving at their destination safely and the price of fuel.

Nationally, average retail gas prices are approximately 50 cents higher than a year ago and one dollar higher than two years ago, according to gasbuddy.com.

With gas prices reaching record levels, it’s more important than ever to keep tabs on your fuel spending.

While we have no control over the price of fuel, we can do a few things to help save money.

Most motorists share one common goal—to get the best mileage possible. The desire for the best fuel efficiency is especially strong among recreational vehicle owners. There are many ways that you can reduce fuel and related costs while enjoying life ‘on the road’ in your recreational vehicle.

On the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona, Yuma’s been at the crossroads for centuries. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV drivers are often quite frugal. They budget carefully and they make the most of every trip and vacation. Part of that is being aware of the potential savings that are available to the consumer.

Many RVers take measures to reduce fuel consumption through simple steps like driving 55 instead of 65 or 70 mph and packing lighter to reduce weight in the RV.

Following are five tips to help you save fuel:

1. Avoid High Speeds

Decreasing your speed saves money. The greatest improvement in fuel economy is the speed we drive. As your speed increases, your aerodynamic drag increases. Driving faster pushes more air ahead of the RV which creates more resistance to forward movement. Driving 62 mph rather than 75 mph will reduce fuel consumption by about 15 percent.

2. Do Not Accelerate or Brake Hard

Accelerate gradually, both from a stop and when entering a freeway; avoid sudden jack-rabbit starts and rapid acceleration. By anticipating the traffic and applying slow steady acceleration and braking, fuel economy may increase by as much as 20 percent.

3. Anticipate traffic flow

Look at the traffic as far ahead as possible in order to avoid unnecessary stopping and starting within the flow of traffic. Maintain a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Brake smoothly, avoiding fast stops; rapid braking wastes fuel and cut down your mileage.

Look ahead and anticipate traffic conditions. Slow down well before you need to. Instead of slamming on your breaks just before the line, slowly ease off the accelerator, coasting to a stop and thus avoid wasting fuel and wear on the brakes.

When the light changes green, forget that pedal to the metal mindset and, again, ease into it.

4. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Another fuel saver is to keep tire air pressures at the levels recommended by the tire manufacturer. Tire pressure can severely affects fuel economy.

If the tires are low on air, the engine has to push harder to move the RV ahead. It is important to know that tires can look normal when they are seriously under inflated.

Rockport is known as “The Charm of the Texas Coast” and for good reasons too. It’s a quiet, little town on the coast of Texas just 30 minutes north of Corpus Christi. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Regularly check the air pressure in all tires, when the tires are cool (air pressure increases while you are driving).

Under-inflated tires can increase fuel consumption by up to 4 percent, according to International Energy Agency.

Proper inflation also reduces the incidence of tire failure.

5. Control your weight

Added weight significantly decreases fuel mileage and increases wear and tear on your tires.

Keep in mind that everything you put in your RV has weight. The average couple carries approximately 2,000 pounds of “stuff,” and many full-timing couples carry as much as 3,000 pounds.

When possible, travel with empty gray and black holding tanks and fresh water tank no more than ¼ full.

The following are approximate weights of the liquids that RVs commonly carry:

  • Water—8.3 pounds/gallon
  • Gasoline—6 pounds/gallon
  • Diesel fuel—6.6 pounds/gallon
  • Propane—4.5 pounds/gallon

Now Let’s Go RVing!

Please Note: This is the first in a two-part series on Saving Fuel and Arriving Safely

Part 2: Stay Safe & Save Fuel

Worth Pondering…

I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.

—Jackie Mason

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