Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to Beat the High Cost of Driving

Well this article certainly got my attention. Even though we are traveling now and many of our expenses are paid for, we still get to put gas in whatever cars we use so when I saw that gas prices could climb to $5 this summer, it got me a little freaked out.

For someone who still clearly remembers when gas cost less than $1 per gallon, $5 per gallon (or a whopping $100+ per fill up) seems super high. Yikes.

The last time that gas prices went through the roof (about 2008), I mostly swore off driving. I bought a bus pass, rearranged my schedule, and also started walking and riding my bike more. Looks like those days will soon be back. The unfortunate affect of this increase in gas prices is that it will also affect nearly every other part of our lives as well--the cost to transport groceries will increase, the price for building materials will increase, the cost of toys--and everything else made out of plastic--will increase, getting to and from work will cost more, flying will cost more, even the cost of a styrofoam container for your take out food will cost more because oil impacts just about every manufacturing process there is. Here's how we, even now, try to reduce our fuel costs:
  • We ride the bus whenever possible (a monthly bus pass is much cheaper than filling your car up every week).

  • We walk or ride our bikes to do local errands.

  • We try to buy locally-produced food (this saves the cost of all things related to food from the cost of fertilizer to the cost of transporting the food to the grocery store. Plus it is usually more nutritious as well!).

  • We car pool whenever possible. Now the hubby and I are pretty much together most of the time but before, when I was working, we could sometimes get four or five people who were going to the same meetings to car pool together--that saved a lot of gas!

  • We simply stay home. Depending on your situation, this may or may not be an option, but for many people, especially on weekends, their first inclination is to get up and get out of the house, driving somewhere to shop, eat, or otherwise entertain themselves. If you stay home, you don't use gas. Simple.

  • Our vacations will be much closer to home in order to beat the high cost of fuel (I think the term 'staycation' was coined during the last gas price increase).

  • We throw on an extra sweater instead of jacking up the thermostat when it is cold (our house was heated with natural gas).

  • We try to use all resources minimally because almost everything we do uses power generated by fuel (ie: shorter showers, heating the room we are in instead of the whole house, using a small counter-top oven for baking instead of the large oven, etc).

I think that as prices continue to rise, everyone will start looking at ways to conserve fuel which really isn't a bad thing. In fact it is something that we should have been doing a long time ago. Most countries have already learned this. In Japan, a country where natural resources are scarce, it is second nature to the people there to not be wasteful of anything--water, fuel, food, etc. This is how we all should be.

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