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A record number of people are projected to travel by car over the holidays this year — more than 97 million — according to AAA. That’s an awful lot of folks who should expect to pay more at the pump over the holidays than they did last year.
The nonprofit AAA reported that the national average gas price was $2.429 a gallon on Monday. That’s 12 cents cheaper than one month ago, but 20 cents more than one year ago.
On Tuesday, gas prices fell a bit more, but only to $2.421 a gallon.
With gas prices falling a bit recently — but still much higher than a year ago — it’s worth taking a minute to brush up on your gas-saving skills before running errands or taking a vacation.
There’s an app for that
To save more money on gas, start by reviewing articles like “5 Simple Ways to Slash the Rising Cost of Gas.”
To reduce the amount of fuel you use, your best bet might be an app. The free smartphone app GasBuddy now offers a “Trips” feature that can help you conserve gas.
The feature aims to make you more aware of any gas-guzzling driving maneuvers you might be making, like braking hard or accelerating rapidly.
Patrick DeHaan, head petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, says fuel-efficient driving can save you between 13 and 89 cents a gallon. He explains:
“The manner in which a car is driven will impact its fuel economy tremendously and, unfortunately, most drivers don’t even realize the way they are driving is causing them to make more visits to the pump.”
How it works
GasBuddy’s new Trips feature critiques your driving. Every time you drive somewhere, your fuel efficiency on that trip will be rated as “great,” “not bad” or “not great.”
The rating is part of a summary you get for each trip. The summary also includes a map of the trip that pinpoints the parts of the trip when you drove inefficiently, such as by speeding or accelerating too fast.
You can see a screenshot showing an example of this summary in GasBuddy’s announcement about the new feature.
Neither the announcement nor GasBuddy’s website explains how the Trips feature compiles the information that goes into the trip summaries — such as the pinpoints indicating the parts of a trip during which you braked hard.
I assume the GasBuddy app relies on your smartphone’s GPS technology for at least some details. But as of this article’s publication time, I had not heard back from an inquiry I made to GasBuddy Tuesday about how the app compiles its information.
LifeHacker notes the GasBuddy app is not among those that connect directly to your car, though. That’s why the trip summaries do not include real-time feedback on your fuel efficiency as you drive, according to the publication.
Emily Price writes of GasBuddy:
“It’s not as good as knowing in real time what you’re doing to burn through your tank. If you’re interested in that, I’d recommend giving Dash or Automatic a try (both of which require a device connected to your OBD sensor to give that info in real time).
“If you’re not quite ready to buy car-monitoring hardware, then this can be a great solution to at least get a feel for where it’s all going wrong.”
What’s the best method you’ve found for cutting fuel costs? Share it with us below or on Facebook.