With the price of gas approaching, and in several regions exceeding, $4 a gallon, some drivers are getting creative to reduce their bill. In addition to widely practiced strategies like driving at constant speeds, consumers are also taking their golf clubs out of their trunks and even turning their engines off while moving slowly (which, though surely economical, may not be safe). Here are some of the best tips, collected from around the Web, on how to reduce your bill:
Lighten up. Blogger Clever Dude points out that driving around a 40-pound bag of soil for three weeks is the equivalent of shuttling an extra (little) passenger, which requires more fuel. According to the Energy Department, carrying an extra 100 pounds reduces a vehicle's fuel economy by up to 2 percent. The percentage is higher with smaller cars.
Carpool. Hitching a ride with neighbors or coworkers lets you make new friends while you conserve energy. Websites such as RideSearch and eRideShare can get you started. There are also many regional sites that specialize in connecting commuters. Do a Web search on "carpool" and the name of your region.
Get sleeker. Roll up your windows and remove that luggage rack and you'll improve your aerodynamics, suggests a blogger at Open Travel Info. The Farmer's Almanac estimates that removing a roof rack can improve fuel economy by 5 percent.
Reward yourself. If you're forced to pay big bucks at the pump, at least collect any available rebates. Gas rewards cards give users cash back and other incentives. Money$martLife compares the various offers and recommends Discover's Open Road card and American Express's Blue Cash, which offer up to 5 percent cash-back rewards on gas purchases.
Reduce horsepower. Getting a car with a four-cylinder engine doesn't have to mean a big image sacrifice. In fact, some car companies are enhancing their lower-horsepower offerings by adding the classic muscle-car engine rumble. Cars with less horsepower also tend to be cheaper.
Visit the mechanic. Replacing a clogged air filter for around $20 increases fuel efficiency by up to 10 percent, or about 37 cents per gallon at current gas prices (so it would pay for itself after you've driven enough to burn about 54 gallons of gas). An engine tuneup can increase a car's mileage by up to 4 percent, or around 15 cents a gallon.
Just coast. Here's a real sign of desperation over gas prices: When you're going downhill, moving slowly in traffic, or pulling into a parking space, the Money Kings recommend turning your engine completely off. That way, you can take advantage of the car's momentum and avoid wasting gas on unnecessary acceleration. But the American Automobile Association warns against the dangers of this technique. Power steering and the ability to accelerate quickly may take up more gas, but they also let you get out of harm's way if necessary, says spokesman John Townsend. "The ultimate priority on the road is getting there safely," he says. While it may save some gas, Townsend says that those driving in rush hour, at fast speeds, or close to others should think twice before trying it.