Green Space: Petroleum blues

This morning on the drive to the office, I noticed gas prices were $3.12 a gallon. It’s late May as I write this column, and if this trend continues, there’s no telling what we’ll be paying for a gallon of gas by the time this issue hits your mailbox.

I remember taking a cross-country family trip in my Dad’s trusty ’72 Vista Cruiser station wagon. We stopped to fill up somewhere in the Midwest, and I vividly remember my father telling Mom that there was “No way in hell” he was paying 43 cents for a gallon of gas.
That was a long time ago, and things have certainly changed. I’d personally be delighted to come across gas selling for $2.43 a gallon.

The hows and whys of current gas prices are complex and quick relief doesn’t seem to be on the horizon. True to my column last month, I took a few minutes today and e-mailed my senator about current fuel prices. I know there’s not much he can do – but the need for additional refining capacity is obvious. Maybe if enough of us regular folks pressure the politicians, they’ll finally get the message and “encourage” the oil companies to start building new refineries.

In the meantime, we all need to try to conserve fuel. Of course, if you’re a landscaper, pretty much everything you do involves burning gasoline or diesel fuel. But you can be proactive in terms of personal and work truck usage. Here are a few quick and easy ways to extend your fuel mileage cribbed from a 2005 study conducted by

  • The easiest way to save fuel is by driving sensibly and adhering to posted speed limits. Rapid starts and stops, as well as speeding, waste fuel. The Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save anywhere between 15 cents and 98 cents a gallon, assuming pump prices are at $2.97 a gallon, simply by driving in a sensible and responsible manner.
  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Besides posing a safety hazard, under-inflated tires can reduce your fuel economy slightly.
  • Removing excess weight from a vehicle can also help conserve gas. The Department of Energy estimates that drivers can save anywhere between 3 cents and 6 cents a gallon by removing unnecessary weight from cars and trucks.
  • If your truck comes equipped with cruise control, make sure you use it, especially on long trips. The study revealed that using cruise control at highway speeds offered an average fuel economy savings of 7 percent.
  • Finally, make sure your truck engines are tuned up and in good running order. New fuel and air filters, plugs and plug wires can do wonders for fuel economy.
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