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Use tried, true methods to achieve fuel savings

Staff Sgt. Matthew Simmons, 55th Communications Squadron, fills his gas tank at one of Offutt’s Army and Air Force Exchange Service stations Sept. 22.  Most people, including Sergeant Simmons, are feeling the financial pinch caused by higher gas prices. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Tech. Sgt. Rhonda Moraski)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Simmons, 55th Communications Squadron, fills his gas tank at one of Offutt’s Army and Air Force Exchange Service stations Sept. 22. Most people, including Sergeant Simmons, are feeling the financial pinch caused by higher gas prices. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Tech. Sgt. Rhonda Moraski)

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Caldwell Anthony fills the tank of his SUV Sept. 22 at Offutt’s main gas station.  As the price of a gallon of milk rivals that of a gallon of gas, many people like Sergeant Anthony are looking for ways to get a few more miles out of a tank of gas. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Tech. Sgt. Rhonda Moraski)

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Caldwell Anthony fills the tank of his SUV Sept. 22 at Offutt’s main gas station. As the price of a gallon of milk rivals that of a gallon of gas, many people like Sergeant Anthony are looking for ways to get a few more miles out of a tank of gas. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Tech. Sgt. Rhonda Moraski)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- With the rollercoaster that is the global oil market, there seems to be very few people, if any, who aren't feeling the pinch from higher gas prices. And, as the price of a gallon of milk rivals that of a gallon of gas, many are looking for ways to get a few more miles out of a tank of gas.

"We look at our budget very, closely now," said Kelvin Nesbitt, Offutt's installation passport agent and give a lot more thought to ways to save money. For example, prior to his recent family vacation, Mr. Nesbitt said he and his family did a lot of research to determine if it would cheaper to fly or drive to their destination.

With his wife, Barbara, working in downtown Omaha, Mr. and Mrs. Nesbitt recently exchanged vehicles with Mr. Nesbitt now driving "the beast," the family's large SUV, because he has a shorter commuting distance.

The family is even contemplating buying another, more fuel efficient vehicle.

"That's something I have said I would never do," Mr. Nesbitt said, " ... settle for anything ... but it's unreal the amount of money you find yourself putting in your vehicle (for gas)."

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are several no- or low-cost things Mr. Nesbitt and others can do to increase gas mileage.

For example:
· Only buy gas with the appropriate octane level since the higher the octane, the higher the price. This information should be listed in the vehicle's owner's manual. 

· Stay within posted speed limits since the faster a person drives, the more fuel he or she uses. For example, driving at 65 mph instead of 55 mph increases fuel consumption by 20 percent. Driving at 75 mph instead of 65 mph increases fuel consumption by another 25 percent. 

· Use overdrive gears during highway driving since a vehicle's engine speed decreases when using overdrive reducing both fuel consumption and engine wear. 

· Use cruise control on highway trips since, in most cases, maintaining a constant speed reduces fuel consumption. 

· Avoid unnecessary idling by turning off the engine if a lengthy wait is anticipated. 

· Combine errands since several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. 

· Remove excess weight from the trunk since an extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by one to two percent. 

· Keep your car's engine tuned, oil changed and tires properly inflated and aligned. By following the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner's manual, drivers can save fuel and cars typically run better, longer.

While there are various tried and true ways to save money like those listed here, the FTC warns people to be skeptical of gas-saving advertising claims for automotive devices or oil and gas additives.

"The Environmental Protection Agency has evaluated or tested more than 100 alleged gas-saving devices and has not found any product that significantly improves gas mileage. In fact, some 'gas-saving' products may damage a car's engine or cause substantial increases in exhaust emissions," say FTC officials

Additionally, no government agency endorses gas-saving products for cars.

According to the EPA, the most a product manufacturer can claim is that the EPA has reached certain conclusions about possible gas savings by testing the product or by evaluating the company's test data. Consumers are advised to ask the seller for a copy of the EPA report on a product claim. They can also check the EPA's official Web site at www.epa.gov.

For more money saving tips when it comes to fuel consumption, visit www.fueleconomy.gov.