Here are five tips from a National Geographic article on ways to save gas dollars in snow and cold.
Adopting smarter driving practices increases fuel efficiency at any time of year, but it’s even more important when the temperature drops. During winter, your car’s fuel efficiency can decrease by as much as 50 percent. Wasting fuel not only impacts your pocketbook, it needlessly pollutes the planet as well.
Winter Weight Loss
While carrying a few extra pounds in the back of your car or truck might help you gain traction in snowy weather, the added cargo also reduces winter fuel efficiency. Lighten the load to increase your vehicle’s gas mileage, and always remove snow and ice from the outside of your car before driving; you’ll shave off a surprising amount of unnecessary weight and eliminate the need to run the defroster for an extended period
Track the Impact
Become a “follower” when it comes to your driving habits, and you’ll increase gas mileage. Even a light dusting of snow creates resistance, and your vehicle must work harder to drive over it. If possible, wait to hit the road until after plows have blazed a trail, or drive in the tire tracks that other cars have created.
Parking your car in a garage during winter months keeps it warmer while it’s not in use, so you can bring the engine to the optimal temperature more quickly. Running your car for 30 seconds sufficiently warms the engine enough to drive, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; anything beyond that simply wastes fuel Allow the rest of your vehicle to warm up by driving it. Proceed slowly for the first three miles; your entire car will reach peak temperature, but you won’t waste fuel in the process.
It is tempting to leave the car — and the heat — running when it’s cold outside, but if you think you’ll be sitting still for longer than 10 seconds, turn the car off instead of idling. Your car consumes more gas running for 10 seconds than it does when you turn it off and restart the engine. Cutting down idling time is a simple way to save extra fuel during winter, and it’s also easier on your car’s engine.
Maximize mileage by planning for fuel-efficient driving. Try to schedule errands together to avoid making several short trips, and use the most efficient route. Unless you expect to stay at one of your stops for an extended period of time, your vehicle’s engine will stay warm enough for you to restart it and head to your next destination without interruption.