How to save when fuel costs are high
Vermonters spend on average $5,800 on energy bills every year. Transportation is the largest household energy expense, making up 45% of energy-related spending. Heating follows at 35%, with electricity at 20%. High fuel prices have Vermonters seeking new ways to save at the pump and at home. How can you combat the uncontrollable cost of fueling up? Here is a list of ways to save energy and money now.
With gas prices the highest they’ve been in nearly 15 years, finding ways to drive more efficiently can help. If you drive a gas car, here are some tips to help you save money:
Slow and steady - The US Department of Energy states that it costs an extra $0.23/gallon for every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph. Keep it under 50mph, and avoid braking suddenly, which wastes fuel.
Idle Free - Idling can cost up to a half gallon of fuel per hour. When you’re parked safely for more than 10 seconds, consider turning off the engine.
Travel light, avoid wind resistance – remove unused, heavy objects from your car to lighten your load. Losing 100 pounds stored in your vehicle can improve your MPG by about 1%. Removing large, roof-top cargo boxes can improve fuel economy by 2-8%. Covering your truck bed may also help reduce drag without adding too much weight. Making sure your truck tailgate is attached and closed prevents excess drag.
Tune up – Properly maintaining your car can improve your mileage by about 4%. Make sure you’re using the recommended grade of motor oil and fuel. Make sure your air filter is clean.
Tire pressure – At least once a month, make sure your tires are properly inflated.
Take fewer trips – Consolidate your trips, and take public transportation, walk, or bike if you’re able.
Efficiency Upgrade - Consider making your next car the most fuel-efficient for your budget.
Considering electric? Electric cars can be the right fit for some people, and are much more efficient than gas cars. As electricity becomes increasingly renewable, electric cars are even better for your carbon footprint. Driving electric is like paying $1.50 per gallon at the pump, plus, you’ll save on fuel and maintenance costs over the lifetime of the vehicle.
Any new car has a pretty big price tag, but incentives from your utility and the State of Vermont will help bring down the cost of a new electric car, and MileageSmart is a great option if you’re looking for a used EV.
Electric Vehicle Rebates
- Get $750 or more back from the state and your utility when you buy or lease an EV.
- Income-eligible Vermonters can get up to $5,000 on used EVs.
- Get up to $7,500 in Federal incentives.
- Get discounts or free EV chargers from participating utilities.
- Get electric bike rebates from participating utilities.
What you save on energy at home can help offset what you spend at the pump. By making your home more efficient, you’ll be more resilient against price hikes in the future.
It doesn’t matter how energy-efficient your heating system, if your home isn’t well weatherized, you’re losing the heat you’ve paid for. Weatherization means sealing up air leaks in specific, critical areas throughout your house and adding insulation. This helps you spend less heating, can keep you cooler in the summer, and helps reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, weatherization is one of the most cost effective tools we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont.
Most Vermonters primarily heat with fossil fuels like fuel oil, propane, or natural gas. Programmable thermostats can be set to turn down automatically based on your daily schedule. Smart thermostats go one step further to learn and adjust based on your habits, the weather, and your preferences.
Once you’ve weatherized, consider a non-fossil fuel heating system to help you save even more. Efficient electric heat pumps and advanced wood heat systems can be great options for most homes, and save you money.
Ductless heat pumps can be installed in many types of homes and apartments, and allow you to rely on electricity to heat and cool your home for most of the year, while still keeping your fossil fuel system as back up for those below zero days. Is a heat pump right for you?
If you prefer wood heating options, advanced wood pellet furnaces and boilers are a great, local, alternative to fossil fuel, and pellets can be delivered just like oil or propane.
Heating & Cooling System Rebates:
Electric lawn mowers are battery operated and don’t rely on any liquid fuel (many of them even run with the same battery pack as your cordless drill or other power tools). Electric mowers are often lighter and quieter than their gas-fired alternatives. Going electric for your lawn will help you remove another fuel expense from your budget. Your local electric utility may have rebates to help offset the upfront cost of a new mower.
Free and low-cost energy efficient lighting, appliances, water heaters, and more are available for income-qualified homeowners and renters based on the percentage of income that goes toward your electric bills.
When you’re replacing an appliance, choose an ENERGY STAR certified appliance. The more efficient, the more savings in your pocket, and the fewer emissions in the atmosphere. Compare products, read reviews, and find rebates using the Efficiency Vermont Marketplace.
The Home Energy Loan is a way to finance home weatherization and heating improvements, heat pump water heaters, ENERGY STAR appliances and more. 0% interest financing is available for low-moderate income Vermonters, and you can finance up to 100% of your project.
You can use energy efficiency to offset the cost of high gas and fuel prices and maintain stable energy expenses into the future. If you’re not sure where to start, sign up for a free Virtual Home Energy Visit. One of our energy experts will meet with you over video to evaluate areas of the home like windows, the attic, basement, and appliances. You'll get a list of all the energy-saving opportunities identified and available financial incentives.