Fuel Up Your Fleet’s Gas Savings This Summer


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Summer’s here with all the force of an AC turned up to the max, and the first reaction for HVAC contractors on the might well be, “Boy, is gas cheap.” As of mid-May, AAA listed nationwide gas prices for unleaded regular at an average of $2.68, ranging from a high of $3.80 in California to a low of $2.41 in Arkansas.

But the truth is, gas costs have climbed quite a bit since January—up more than 20 percent, AAA statistics show. Meanwhile, gas prices have a history of shooting up as more Americans hit the road for summer vacations. That means smart HVAC business owners shouldn’t count on significant fuel cost savings as part of their 3rd quarter budget projections.

So yes, gas prices we can’t control. But we approach fuel savings lies well within grasp. Which strategies will keep fuel spending down, even if pump prices go up? Here we list five ways to avoid pump pain while pocketing a savings gain.

1) Keep tires properly inflated
This should be more than just an occasional practice, says James Shelton, a Technical Field Support Manager, Jiffy Lube International. “Checking the tire pressure and tread depth of your tires at each fuel fill up will extend the life of your tires as well as improve your vehicle’s ride quality, and reduce fuel consumption.” Gas mileage can increase by as much as 3.3 percent, meaning that per every 10,000 fleet miles, you can tack on another 330 miles in savings, or about $100 at current fuel prices.

2) Change your oil, and put the right oil in
This is key for older vehicles especially, which in many cases will benefit from using 5W-30 motor oil. Fueleconomy.gov states that the right oil grade will save you another 1-2 percent in gas mileage—see how all this is adding up? But as for replacing air filters, consider taking a pass. While some folks say this will boost mileage, government studies show that a new air filter, while it will improve engine performance, won’t help much in the gas department.

3) Go over the big-city line to buy gas
In large urban areas such as Chicago and Philadelphia, gasoline is heavily taxed and thus more expensive. Odd as it may seem, you can drive to gas stations just across the street from Chicago’s city limits and find gas that’s much cheaper. Beyond that, keep your eyes peeled for especially busy stations, a sure sign that prices there are very low. But don’t drive too far out of your way to get the cheap stuff, as a long trip may negate any savings you realize. Plan buying cheaper suburban gas, for example, around a string of HVAC appointments in the area.

4) Buy low-octane gasoline
If you’re among the business owners or drivers who buy high-octane gas because you think it gives you better gas mileage, consider that experts agree this is a waste of money. Props to Lucy Lazarony at Bankrate.com for pointing this out, along with other gas-saving tips you can read here. Bottom line: Unless your car specifically requires premium, skip it and go for low-octane fuel.
5) Use gas-saving apps
The free GasBuddy mobile app still ranks as the best for finding the lowest gas prices in your driving area. But there are other driving apps that will save gas dollars for your fleet in creative ways, including Waze. This clever navigation app uses crowdsourcing to gather traffic information. That means drivers in your area will alert you to road snafus, traps and hazards, from traffic snarls to red light and speeding cameras. It’ll even show you shortcuts you never knew about—a sure way to save fuel.

Getting gas savvy also has other benefits. An effective fuel-savings strategy means your drivers will spend less time in traffic, operate safer vehicles and improve the overall efficiency of your operation. Meanwhile, consider convening a team meeting to brainstorm other ways to keep fuel costs down. Offer incentives, treat the gang to some pizza: What better way to pump up morale?

Lou Carlozo

Posted In: Vehicles & Fleets

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