Friday, May 30, 2008

What Are You Doing? Nothing...

This blog, my book, and a lot of my writing is about making decisions as you go through your day-to-day journey through life. It is a blessing that on some of those days you won't have to make significant decisions. Every once in a while it is great just to coast for a while. People think of such times as coming when you are on vacation, but I find that the planning of a vacation frequently requires more decisions than you have when you are in "home" mode. It's not a matter of goofing off. It's more a sense of staying within the "comfort zone" that we all establish through routine and repetition of activities at which we have achieved a good level of capability.
This is all part of the slower pace of life that our society used to have. Even if your normal day is a complete rat-race, you should periodically do nothing, smell the flowers, or read for the sake of reading rather than achieving - just to prove that you still can. If you can't relax enough to do nothing, you may have a problem.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ways to Reduce Your Gasoline Costs

In these days of extremely high gas prices you have to think about your car and your driving habits to save gasoline:

1. Fill gas tank halfway only. – Reduce the weight the car carries.
2. Combine your short errand trips. – Don’t make a single errand and return.
3. Design your route to maximize right turns. – Left turns take waiting and extra gas.
4. Keep your tire pressures up. – Less tire wear and better mileage.
5. Fill tires with nitrogen instead of air. – Maintains tire pressure longer.
6. Turn off engine if idling longer than 30 seconds – IF car is in good shape to restart engine.
7. Park in lot to pull out forward if possible. - Backing and maneuvering take extra gas.
8. Reduce the load in your trunk. – Extra weight requires extra gas.
9. Keep your car clean. – A smooth surface has less drag.
10. Telephone or e-mail rather than driving. – Reduce trips to reduce gas.
11. Move closer to your work to reduce commuting miles.
12. Carpool whenever possible.
13. Take public transportation whenever possible and practical.
14. Buy the lowest grade of gasoline that matches your car’s specifications.
15. Change your oil regularly and maintain oil levels.
16. Use synthetic oil for better lubrication.
17. If you have two cars, use the higher mpg car for long trips.
18. Schedule meetings near the midway geographical point among participants to reduce average travel mileage.
19. Use conference phone calls rather than having meetings.
20. Shop locally.
21. When you have alternate possible places to shop go to the nearest one.
22. Monitor prices and go to the gas station with lowest prices that is within a reasonable travel distance.
23. Reduce eating out. – This saves mileage and reduces your restaurant budget to increase your gas budget.
24. Ride a bike or walk for local trips.
25. Ask yourself, “Is this trip necessary?” – If not, don’t go.
26. Mow your lawn with an electric lawn mower.
27. Keep your car tuned and serviced properly.
28. Slow down approaching red lights. Time your approach to eliminate or reduce complete stops.
29. Use only moderate acceleration. Maximum acceleration wastes gas.
30. Take turns smoothly. Tight turns and stops/starts on turn waste gas and increase tire wear.
31. Cruise at 55 mph on highways. Higher speeds waste gas.
32. Try to maintain constant or slowly changing speeds whether local or distance driving.
33. Shop online or by catalog rather than by car.
34. Use online banking when practical.
35. Don’t idle your car for a long time to warm it up. – Start up and go.
36. Drive in dry rather than wet weather when possible. – Rain causes extra drag and worse friction control between tires and pavement. (same for ice/snow)
37. Don’t use drive-up lanes at fast food restaurants, banks, etc. – Too much idling.
38. Plan your trip to take bridges and underpasses where possible to avoid possible long waits at train crossings.
39. Use limited-access highways rather than local roads to maintain cruising speed and avoid multiple stops at traffic lights.
40. Avoid construction zones.
41. Get an I-Pass (EZ-Pass, etc.) when traveling toll roads to pay your tolls without stopping and waiting in line.
42. Put outgoing mail in your home mailbox for the mail carrier to pick up rather than taking it to a public mailbox or the post office.
43. Walk rather than drive your child to and from school or the school bus stop.
44. Don’t use your air conditioner unless you really need it. If you do use it, set the controls to recirculate the air inside the car. This will mean that the air conditioner cools air that has already been cooled, which uses less energy than cooling hot outside air.
45. Watch your tachometer to keep your rpm’s fairly constant. Generally, cruise rpm’s should be in the 1500 to 2000 range. If you are trying to save gas, they should never be much higher.
46. Use tires designed for highway driving rather than off-road tire types or snow tires (except when required for the conditions you are facing).
47. Avoid bumpy roads and potholed surfaces. – Your car can’t get good mileage if the tires are not in continuous contact with the road.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gas Prices and Improved Cars

As the price of gasoline continues to rise, many people start to think about trading in their existing car for one that goes more miles per gallon of gas. When you do get such thoughts, make sure you look at the actual mathematics of the gas cost vs. car cost situation. Assume you are an average driver who might drive 12,000 miles per year. If you are consciously trying to limit your driving miles by such tricks as making many planned stops on a single trip rather than taking many individual trips, 12,000 miles per year is quite reasonable. Assume that your current car goes 20 miles per gallon of gas. If we assume that gas soars to a price of $5.00 per gallon, you would use 600 gallons per year for a cost of $3,000 per year. If you were able to trade in your car for one that has double the fuel economy, that goes 40 miles per gallon of gas, your annual gas cost would drop from $3,000 to $1,500. That's a good bit of savings. Now if you are going to keep your new car for five years, you have to find a new car that you can buy for the five-year savings, or $7,500 in order to spend the same for gasoline plus car costs as you would by continuing to drive your old car. Go ahead, enjoy your $7,500 new car if you can find it. If you want to pay even less than you are now paying, your new car would have to have an even lower price...And don't forget, this calculation was based on $5.00 per gallon gasoline. Perhaps "rusty but trusty" is the better solution until your current car has to be replaced for functional reasons.