California's reputation as a tourist destination reaches around the world. And that reputation doesn't stop with the state's natural or man-made wonders. The 175,000 miles of highway are so well traveled that Californians, in 1996, used nearly 14 billion gallons of gasoline.
While the foremost expenditure for tourists is usually lodging, gasoline prices, hovering around a statewide average of $1.36 this week and expected to increase slightly as the season continues, can be a sizable consideration for automobile travelers. All is not hopeless, however, as vacationers can take a few simple steps to control and reduce vehicle costs. Here are the top three tips recommended by the Energy Commission to help keep those gasoline costs in check.
Roll up your car windows and use the air conditioning. Yes, you heard right. When driving over 40 miles per hour, using the air conditioning actually wastes less gasoline than rolling down your windows. That's because new, sleeker cars are more aerodynamic and energy efficient with the windows rolled up. For additional savings, try to use your vehicle's flow-through ventilation system without the air conditioning.
Fill up with regular unleaded gasoline. Surprised? Don't be. Roughly 80 percent of today's cars and trucks are suited for regular unleaded gasoline. Check your owner's manual for the right octane rating for your car. By using regular unleaded instead of mid-grade or premium unleaded, you can save money. In fact, regular unleaded gasoline has slightly more energy per gallon than the other grades.
Keep the pressure up. Under-inflated tires cut fuel economy by as much as 2 percent for each missing pound of pressure. So, if your tires are supposed to be inflated to 30 psi but they're rolling along at only 25, you'll suffer a 10 percent loss in fuel economy. Oh yes, add a 5 - 10 percent savings in fuel consumption if you opt for radial tires and don't forget to have them properly balanced.
As an additional service to motorists, the Energy Commission is posting weekly average statewide gasoline prices. These prices are available to the consumer in two ways -- on the Internet at http://www.energy.ca.gov/fuels.html and on a phone information line at (916) 654-5020. Prices are updated every Friday morning.
This information on gasoline prices and supplies, coupled with prudent driving tips, should enable motorists to make the most of their money as they cruise through their vacations.
And speaking of cruising, use the worthy cruise control to reduce speed changes. Slow and steady doesn't just win the race, it uses less fuel along the way.
Additional fuel saving tips can be found on the Internet at the Energy Commission's web site, Access Energy at
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