Using less fuel is more lucrative than ever.

Gas prices got you down? In an attempt to inject some humor into the current fuel fiasco, we’ve decided to adopt a look-on-the-bright-side approach to the soaring cost of driving your car. Don’t think of it as a drain on your wallet, think of it as an opportunity to increase your savings rate. You see, for every gallon of gas you conserve, you’re saving not just $1 (as you might have in the 1980s) or even $3 (as you would have just a few months ago), but $3.60, on average. And experts say your (ahem) savings are bound to go even higher in the near future. Yes, saving gas has become more profitable than ever. But even if you don’t take a tank-half-full attitude toward surging fuel costs, there are still several easy things you can do to keep your tank fuller, longer. Here are seven ways to conserve gas:

1. Keep your car well-maintained
It pays at the pump to have your tires properly inflated and your air filter, spark plugs and oil replaced regularly.

2. Drive a fuel-efficient car

While it’s obvious that you’ll use less gas if you drive a compact car and not an SUV, there are several ways to make a big car more fuel-efficient. Don’t choose weighty options such as four-wheel drive if you don’t need it, and reduce wind drag by removing extras, such as luggage racks, when you’re not using them.

3. Drive smart
Driving 70 mph in a 55 mph zone cuts your fuel efficiency by 17 percent, so try to obey the speed limit. Avoid abrupt stops and quick accelerations.

4. Park smart
Park in the first space you see, even if it means you have to walk a little farther. And try to park in the shade or a garage, so you won’t have to blast the air conditioning to cool off your car later.

5. Stay cool
At speeds below 40 mph, turn off the air conditioning and open the window. But on the highway, where speeds are faster and wind resistance greater, it’s more efficient to close the window and run the AC.

6. Drive less
Join a carpool or take public transportation to work. Combine several errands into one trip or consider walking instead of driving to nearby destinations.

7. Drive at the right time
As the price per gallon rises, it becomes increasingly cost effective to wake up an hour early and avoid idling in morning rush hour traffic.

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