Thursday, May 22, 2008

Increase in gas prices makes for easy math ... and incentive to stay home

It cost me $74 to fill up my gas tank. Yeouch. I couldn't help but ponder what else I might have spent that $74 on... dinner for two, new shoes, signing up for an art class or Rec sport. Not being very mathematically inspired, I don't often calculate the cost of a trip. But nowadays, the dollars add up to enough to make me think twice before running a unnecessary errand. I calculated that it costs me $8 in gas to go to Ann Arbor and back.

My minivan gets approximately 20 miles per gallon. For the sake of easy math, estimate that Ann Arbor is 20 miles away from Chelsea, and gas is $4.00 per gallon. That means I'll use 1 gallon of gas to get to Briarwood Mall (see Google map for the route) and the roundtrip cost is 2 gallons x $4 per gallon = $8. In other words, 20 cents per mile.

That is good incentive to shop, eat and play locally before driving to Ann Arbor, Jackson or Brighton. Either that, or be sure that your savings add up to more than the cost of gas.

How to Save Your Gas Money
For those of you who are commuting for work, school, recreation or shopping, here are some calculations for you: *Calculations based on my numbers above: $4 per gallon of gas, 20 miles to A2, average 20 mpg
  • Five days a week commute: Commute to work 5 days a week and gas will cost you $40 a week, or $160 a month. Perhaps that Chelsea-Ann Arbor commuter bus at $125 per month is looking more tempting!
  • Share a ride / work from home ONE day each week: $128 per month (save $32 each month or $384 a year)
  • Share a ride / work from home TWO days each week: $96 per month (save $64 each month or $768 a year)
  • Commute 5 days a week, but drive a more fuel efficient car: If you drive a car that gets 30 mpg instead of 20 mpg, your gas cost will be 13 cents per mile, or $104 per month. (save $56 per month, or $672 per year)
If driving a different car, or fewer miles is not possible, here are some more tips:
  • Drive a more fuel efficient car, when possible. (Instead of the minivan, we can take the other car, which gets 30 mpg)
  • Turn down the A/C (not a problem during our cool weather this month!)
  • Drive the speed limit (saves on those speeding tickets, too!)
  • Keep your car tuned up and tires inflated to the correct level
  • Minimize idling your car. Turn off the car while you wait in line, or better yet, park and go in.
Driving out of your way for cheaper gas?
Think again! You may be driving away the savings, unless the cheaper gas station is already on your route. For example, it makes sense for my husband to fill up at a gas station on Baker Rd. because he has to drive that way to go to his office. If I do that solely for the purpose of getting gas, it is actually *costing* me money. Do your own calculations at

More Resources:

On the plus side, I'm getting more exercise because I'm taking my bike everywhere!


julies whimsies on a rose said...

I drive a compact car...very slowly. The fastest I'll go is 60 (in the trucker's lane.) I've researched on fuel saving via google, and found the faster you drive and the more you accelerate, the more fuel you will use. Turn your engine off if you are going to be idling for more than 3 minutes. The crazy dudes on Mythbusters tested the open windows versus closed windows and A/C idea. They found that cars driven with windows down are every bit as fuel-efficient as windows cars with closed. Add the A/C get my drift. As for those tail-gating trucks and SUVs (who must have somewhere VERY important to go.) I have the last laugh.

Mike said...

If you live in the City of Chelsea, walk or bike. The city is very walkable in most places. New sidewalks have been installed in the past couple years on South Main Street and on Old US-12. Also, those upside down "U"s in the downtown are bike racks. Yesterday, I shopped for a few items at Polly's and rode my bike and took a backpack to put the items in. I saved gas and a few plastic bags.

Mazenbloo said...

I thought I read a study on shutting an engine off was actually worse for the wear and tear on your car because of the process of starting/shutting off happening.

And also know that when you are driving on the expressway you should get more than that in your van Leslie. We usually got around 24 with both driving in Chelsea and sometimes to the inlaws in Saline. When we are doing only expressway driving my van was averaging 28 mpg! YES! You read that right. LOL On our trip from Indiana to Arizona. It's the stop and go little trip traffic that lowers the gas mileage. So you are right. Planning trips and taking bikes when one doesn't have to really helps save money.

Out here in AZ we seem to have the lowest prices in the nation at the moment. I filled up on Thursday for $3.39 a gallon. But still. That really sucks to be paying that much.

julies whimsies on a rose said...

I walk everywhere in downtown Chelsea. I live downtown and am always amazed at seeing my neighbors drive to the LIBRARY....I cannot walk out to Fletcher Rd. where I keep my horse....I mean, I COULD! But riding a horse for a couple of hours is major league exercise. When I finish I am winded, exhausted and dripping wet...even in the winter. I ride Dressage....which is a lot more intense than trail-riding Western. I'm saving for a good bike. But money is short.