Newswise – Perdue University researchers, who told us how to wash clothes so they emerge much drier, have now turned their attention to how to save gas. It turns out that the way you drive can make your car much more gas efficient?even if you don’t have a hybrid.

Mechanical engineer Heather L. Cooper has several suggestions that will improve gas mileage. When running the air conditioner, use the recirculation setting to minimize the energy necessary to maintain a constant temperature in the vehicle. Setting the air conditioner at a comfortable temperature and not adjusting it will use less fuel than turning it on and off as needed.

For pickup trucks, drive with the tailgate up, rather than down or removed completely. A well-sealed cover or cap can improve mileage by reducing drag across the truck bed.

Lower speeds are better for long highway trips. When driving above 55 or 60 mph, gas mileage drops significantly. Use cruise control to maintain a consistent speed.

Use less expensive regular gasoline with a lower octane, instead of more expensive premium (unless premium is required for your vehicle). Higher octanes don?t provide any benefit unless your engine is not working well.

Keep tires inflated to manufacturers’ recommendations and make sure your car is in good working order through regular maintenance.

Don’t let your car to idle for long periods of time. If you have to wait, turn the engine off.

“When driving in town, it is difficult to conserve fuel while making a lot of stops,” says Cooper, who is a former engineer with General Motors. “Try to combine errands into one or two weekly trips. Plan your errands in advance to minimize distances and backtracking.”

Even small adjustments in driving can make a big difference in the amount of money you save at the pump. For example, for someone who drives 15,000 miles a year in a car that averages 25 miles per gallon, an increase in gas mileage of only 2 mpg would save more than $120 a year at current gas prices.

Do gas prices have to be so high–and who’s making money from these high prices? US gasoline retailers are not profiting from high prices, but the government and the oil refineries certainly are, according to retailing expert Robert Robicheaux, who says, “Our state and federal governments are doing quite well with the impressive taxes on each gallon of gas that is sold. Taxes on fuel sales were increased in decades past to increase tax revenues and discourage gasoline consumption, but consumers have been buying more, not fewer, gallons of gas. During the last decade or so, the gross profit margins earned per gallon of gas sold have increased for the refiners, despite falling profits for retailers.”

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