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Keeping Costs Low When Gas Prices Rise

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For contractors, summer is one of the most wonderful times of the year. The temperatures are climbing, customers have their air conditioners running full blast, and the phones are ringing off the hook. And while business is booming, there is something else that is typically rising…gas prices!

According the AAA’s May 2014 Fuel Gauge Report, gas prices were 15 cents higher than they were at the same time in 2013. It also noted that 24 states and the District of Columbia saw double digit increases in gas prices. California and Utah topped those increase increasing 22 cents per gallon.
While you can’t simply take your entire fleet off the streets to save on gas, there are several things you can do that will improve the fuel economy of your vehicles.

Keep Your Vehicles Well Maintained
Vehicles that are kept in good working order will use less gas. According the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), by tuning up vehicles that are “noticeably out of tune” can improve gas mileage by about 4 percent, which is about 15 cents per gallon. Furthermore, if there are major maintenance issues with your vehicles and you are able to correct them, it will increase your gas mileage about 40 percent!

Having all the tires on your vehicles properly inflated is another way to improve gas mileage. According to the DOE, under-inflated tires can cause gas mileage to drop .3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure in all four tires. If you want more information on tire maintenance, IE3 covered tire maintenance in the May 2014 issue.

Change the oil in your vehicles and only use the manufacturer’s recommended oil grade. Using an oil grade that is not recommended for your vehicles can lower your fuel economy by 1 – 2 percent. The DOE also suggests using motor oil that is marked Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.

Teach Your Team To Drive More Efficiently
How your team drives can greatly affect fuel economy in your vehicles. So, make sure that you have clearly stated your expectations for how they are to drive your company’s vehicles. Here are a couple of areas that if you haven’t addressed, you should.

Aggressive Driving. Rapid acceleration, excessive speeding, and fast breaking all lower your vehicles’ fuel economy. In fact according to the DOE driving aggressively on the highway can reduce your gas mileage up to 33 percent, which is about $1.21 per gallon and up to 5 percent in city driving. On top of increasing your fuel costs, aggressive driving is dangerous. So, if you want to keep not only fuel costs down, but also insurance premiums and time lost for being out due to an accident; make sure you have an aggressive driving policy in your employee manual and make sure that every employee has received a copy of it.

Observe The Speed Limit. All vehicles have different speeds or speed ranges where they get the best fuel economy, but following the posted speed limit is a good way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the gas in your vehicle. According to the DOE gas mileage begins to drop rapidly at speeds over 50mph.

Reduce Idling. Idling vehicles can use up to a half a gallon of gas per hour according to the DOE or up to five cents per minute with the air conditioning running. So, make sure that you remind your team to turn off their vehicles as soon as they park at their job location and do not start it up, until they are ready to leave. Sitting in the vehicle while it’s running, doing paperwork or calling the office, can cost you big over time.

Drop Some Weight. This one may be tough, but it will definitely help. If you keep the inside of your vehicles clean and don’t have a lot of extra equipment you don’t need in it, it will be lighter. Lighter vehicles have better fuel economy and the DOE says that for every 100 extra pounds of weight in the vehicles, the fuel economy drops 2 percent.

You probably have policies about a lot of the things mentioned in this article, but it’s always good to remind your team about them, especially when the cost of gas is up. Not only will these tips help you save some money on gas, but some of them will help keep your team safe on the road and will save you money in repair and replacement costs in the long run.

Posted In: ACCA Now, Management, Money, Safety, Vehicles & Fleets

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