Break a habit or break the bank

“I don’t see people slowing down,” Mrs. News Cut remarked to me today as we drove along I-494 in the East Metro — in the far righthand lane, of course. “That’s because people want everything and everyone else to change so that don’t have to,” I replied, invoking the time-honored sweeping generalization method of anthropology.

People are in a big hurry and when it comes to the cost of gasoline, getting somewhere in a hurry is a fair trade, many figure, for a few extra bucks.

And yet, people will sit in line for an hour or more, probably, to save money on gasoline.

There’s got to be an easier way and, fortunately, noted energy consumption specialist — and occasional MPR reporter — Tom Weber has recently completed some research:


I wondered how much gas I might save if I simply change when I turn my car on. In the past, I’d turn it on, then put my seat belt on, then turn on the radio. And when I get home, I’d park, then roll up the windows, then turn the car off. It was all backwards! Actually turning the car on should be the last thing you do when you’re leaving and the first thing you do when you’re parking.

It was actually hard, took me a week to do – to break my habit. Now, I sit in my car, get situated, plug in my phone – maybe turn the car on (but not the engine) to roll down the windows — then I turn the car on and immediately shift it into gear and go.

When I get home, I park and immediately turn off the car. If the windows and radio are still on, I can roll those up without having the engine on.

I just filled my gas tank on the way home today and noticed my car got about 2 miles per gallon more this tank. I actually spent fewer minutes with the engine on, but didn’t limit how much I actually drove and it saved. Sure, only a few bucks. But what’s wrong with using gas more efficiently and saving a few bucks?

I have to admit, I’ve noticed the same thing. I get in the car, turn it on, put the seat belt on, then close the garage door. The radio? You have to turn them off now?

It feels like a good day for chewing on your Weberific gas saving idea.