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For Immediate Release: April 13, 2006
Media Contact: Rob Schlichting - 916-654-4989

Drivers CAN save money, even as gasoline prices climb


Sacramento - This Monday, Californians saw the average weekly retail price for regular gasoline reach $2.81 a gallon, the highest price since last October, when the U.S. petroleum industry was struggling to recover from the damage of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Then, as now, the cause of high prices at the pump was the escalating cost of crude oil.

On April 11, 2006, Alaska North Slope crude oil, which makes up 21 percent of California's oil supply, reached a record high of $67.18 a barrel. The previous high of $67.06 was set at the end of August 2005, after hurricanes shut down oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico. This year's increases are blamed on increasing demand from such burgeoning markets in China, India and the U.S., coupled with fear that instability in Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela and other oil-producing regions could once again limit supply.

"Unfortunately high crude oil prices are driving gasoline prices up this spring," commented Joseph Desmond, Chairman of the California Energy Commission. "To help consumers, the Energy Commission has prepared some easy ways to reduce your fuel costs and keep more of your money in your wallet."

  • Consumers can save as much as 20 percent, simply by shopping wisely. Since today's gasolines provide very similar engine performance, look for the stations in your area with the lowest prices. Fuel prices can vary 10 percent within a few blocks.


  • Avoid filling the tank during high-price periods, and don't waste money on premium or mid-grade gasoline if your car doesn't require it. Premium gasoline typically costs an extra 20 cents a gallon, and approximately 90 percent of the cars on the road today are designed to run on regular.


  • Consider ways to cut your driving, especially driving alone. You can cut your fuel costs as much as 30 percent by walking, biking, or taking mass transit. Sharing a ride to work with a friend or two effectively doubles your fuel economy for the trip and may allow you to use the diamond lane. Plan and combine your trips to be as efficient as possible.


  • More and more employers offer telecommuting as an option. You can also reduce the need to drive by using the computer and telephone to replace vehicle trips for business, shopping and services when you can.


  • By driving efficiently, you can save as much as 20 percent. Avoid aggressive driving and rapid starts, and stay within the speed limit. All vehicles lose fuel economy at speeds above 55 miles per hour. Driving 65 instead of 75 mph reduces fuel costs 13 percent. Driving 55 mph would save 25 percent.


  • Don't needlessly idle your engine. Today's vehicles are designed to warm up fast. If your engine is running while the car isn't moving, you're getting NO miles per gallon.


  • By making sure your car is operating properly, you can save up to 50 percent on your fuel costs. Regular maintenance - as prescribed by the vehicle owner's manual - will help your vehicle achieve its best fuel economy. A dirty air filter and under-inflated tires can increase your fuel cost as much as 13 percent. It has been estimated that if all Californians properly inflated and aligned their tires, we could save 300 million gallons of gasoline a year.


  • When you buy a vehicle, keep fuel efficiency in mind. High oil prices will keep fuel prices high, so plan for the future by comparing the miles per gallon of the type of vehicle you're purchasing. Consider a hybrid-electric. Wise shopping can cut your fuel costs as much as 75 percent.


These and other gas-saving tips are on the Energy Commission's consumer Web site at

www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips

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