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Lower gas prices in San Antonio area could go farther

Special to the Courier

At an average of less than $2 per gallon, gasoline prices in the Alamo area are lower than they have been in several years. Still, when the generosity and celebration of the holiday season is leaving many a payment card drained, even these prices can be taxing.
At this time of year, keeping in mind some simple ways to make a gallon of gas go farther and leave more money accessible through that payment card can be helpful. The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) suggests these easy, gas-saving methods:
• Ease up on the gas and brake pedals. Speeding, rapid acceleration, and excessive braking can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets. On average, aggressive driving wastes about $0.68 per gallon on the open road and $0.10 per gallon in town.
• Drive the speed limit or slightly less: While the speed limit on major roadways in our urbanized areas does not exceed 65 or 70 miles per hour, many people creep above those limits to 70 or 75 mph. Driving steadily at 75 rather than 65 mph uses an average of 14 percent more gasoline per gallon, which is about $0.28 worth.
• Avoid traffic congestion: While going almost nowhere in heavy traffic, a conventional vehicle can use one-fourth to one-half gallon of gas per hour, depending on engine size and AC use. Avoiding peak rush hours and heavy traffic areas caused by construction or special events can save anywhere from $0.51 to $1.02 per hour.
• Park and go inside: Like sitting in heavy traffic, idling in a line of vehicles in restaurant and pharmacy drive-through lanes wastes gasoline. Contrary to popular belief, it does not use more gas to shut off a vehicle's engine to go inside to pick up an order and restart it upon return. Idling a conventional vehicle's engine for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than turning off an engine and restarting it.
• Combine errands into one trip: Several short trips taken with a cold engine can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. Postponing nonessential trips until several can be taken at once will save gas money.
• Because the nitrogen oxides found in vehicle emissions are major contributor to ground level ozone, which is the primary form of air pollution in the Alamo region, using less gasoline not only saves money, but also helps improve air quality. More fuel-saving tips and other information about the link between transportation and air quality may be found at cleanairdrive.com.