Sunday, September 14, 2008

What is your current fuel cost?

What is your current MPG?

To start saving gas you need to know how much you are spending today. What is your daily regular cost of driving back and forth to work? What would your current costs be driving on the highway as opposed to city driving? Do you know what this cost is over an extended period of time? Say a month. Can you get an accurate average cost/MPG?

Once you have this baseline, you can see if any measures you take will indeed reduce your gas/diesel consumption.

Some businesses already record this information as they not only have to record fuel consumption, but also full maintenance of their vehicle(s). But this is a whole other subject.

OK, so how do you figure that out?

Well some of you may have a tool built in your vehicle that can figure this out for you.
This is a trip computer. It calculates the range of a full tank and the average MPG you are getting at the moment. You may need to read your car's owner's manual to set it up correctly. This way you know how to reset the system or zero it out. You can then record this information on your note pad or receipt.

Most cars have a trip odometer, which is the second mileage dial on the dash of your car. Some are digital like mine on the Honda. Some are analog and require you to either dial or push to reset to zero.

You need to be able to record how much gas you get everytime you fill up.

When you get gas you should fill it up all the way until the pump clicks and stop filling. If you do this every time you get gas, the amount to fill will be consistent. This in turn will give you more accurate MPG calculations.

I also recommend getting a receipt every time you fill up. Write the odometer mileage on the receipt. This will allow you to record the information on your pad, spreadsheet or computer at a later time. This also saves you time at the pump.

Now you are recording your mileage everytime you fill up. What do you do with it?

Well we need to calculate and record your mileage/MPG. This is done by taking the number of miles driven and divide this by the number of gallons filled. For some just doing this in your head is great. I need my handy calculator or computer to do this for me. This way I know it's done correctly and accurately. I created a spreadsheet on the computer that does the calculations for me.

For the rest of you a pen, a pad of paper, and a calculator (I tend to be more accurate with one) will do fine.

Now you are recording the mileage information every time you fill up. You can start to see what your average MPG is over a specific time frame. If you record how much you spend you can also start to see how much you pay for gas over time.

In a future post I'll tell you how I automate this process and show you the tools I use.

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