For Immediate Release: May 22, 2009
Media Contact: Susanne Garfield - 916-654-4989

Drive Energy Smart and Safe this Summer

Energy Commission encourages fuel efficiency

SACRAMENTO -- While gasoline prices are not the historic highs consumers saw last summer, it's still important to drive fuel-smart.

As the summer vacation season begins, the California Energy Commission encourages drivers to use some simple gas conservation methods to help them get the most out of vacation budgets and help preserve the state's environment for generations to come.

Memorial Day traditionally signals the start of the summer driving season when motorists hit the nation's highways in large numbers, usually causing gasoline demand to increase and prices to jump.

Regular gasoline in California averaged $2.52 for May 18, 2009. Nationally, regular gasoline averaged $2.30 per gallon. Last year at this time California consumers paid an average $4.09 per gallon and by June gasoline prices were at a record high of $4.58 per gallon. Although the Energy Commission expects ample gasoline and diesel supplies this summer for travelers, saving fuel and money still makes good sense.

Fuel-Saving Tips for the Vacation Season

Slow down and enjoy the ride - it's a vacation! Fuel economy decreases as speeds go up. Vehicles lose roughly one percent in fuel economy for every mile per hour driven above 55 mph. That means a car that averages 30 mpg at 55 mph could typically get 28.5 mpg at 60 mph, 27 mpg at 65 mph, and 25.5 mpg at 70 mph. (The drop in fuel economy varies for different models and ages of vehicles.)

Keep the car tuned up and the filters and engine oil clean. Dirty air and oil filters combined with dirty oil can decrease mileage by 2.5 mpg. Worn spark plugs can decrease mileage by 2 mpg. A non-functioning oxygen sensor can decrease mileage up to 3 mpg.

Keep tires properly inflated. Low tire pressure reduces gas mileage and causes increased tread wear. Keep tires properly balanced and aligned to get the best gas mileage.

Lighten up that load. Remove unused luggage, bicycle or ski racks, and other extra weight.

Use air conditioning prudently. Over-use of a car's air conditioner can drop mileage by 2 mpg.

Plan trips in advance. Getting lost or having to back track wastes fuel - and time.

Where possible, shop around for the best gasoline prices. Stations across the street from each other can vary in price by 20 cents a gallon or more, and stations near the freeway are often the most expensive. Since all gasoline sold in California meets strict fuel standards, most vehicles do well on any brand. Buying the least expensive fuel rewards station owners that lower their prices and encourages others to do the same.

Fill up with regular unleaded gasoline. Approximately 80 percent of today's cars and trucks run just fine on regular. By using regular instead of mid-grade or premium, the savings add up.

Additional driving tips and ways to improve fuel efficiency can be found on the California Energy Commission's Consumer Energy Center website. Visit:

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