Many have apparently already forgotten 2008. The Washington Post reported that sales of mid-size sport utility vehicles jumped 41 percent in the first 11 months of 2010, led by vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which average about 18 miles per gallon.
A number of signs indicate, however, that the days of cheap gasoline may be over. In 2010, Chinese auto sales rose nearly 50% to 13.6 million vehicles and China became the world's biggest auto market by units sold and the second largest importer of oil, behind us. The 2010 IEA World Energy Outlook noted that global conventional oil production peaked in 2006. Generally speaking, when demand exceeds supply, prices trend upward.
Consider these ten actions you can take now to reduce your risks of higher fuel costs while also reducing environmental impact, improving your quality of life, and enhancing national energy security:
- Trade for a fuel-efficient, alternative-fuel or electric vehicle. Surviving manufacturers have ramped up their offerings of vehicles that get more than 30 miles per gallon. Check out fueleconomy.gov.
- Move closer to your work, school, and essential services. Evaluate potential locations using walkscore.com, transit maps, and bike route maps.
- Carpool. If you can’t move or you don’t want to trade your Yukon Denali, carpool with friends. If you attend or work for a university or a large corporation, they may have a carpool program with perks like special parking spots and free rides home for family emergencies. For students, faculty and staff at Indiana University, carpools get a discounted parking pass and a marked spot near the door, and you can find a carpool match with zimride.com.
- Drive less. Consolidate trips. Plan ahead.
- Let your fingers do the driving via your computer keyboard or cell phone. Sign up for online bill paying and banking.
- Slow down - each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas.
- Service your vehicle regularly. Keep your engine tuned, your filters clean, your tires properly inflated and use the recommended grade of oil. This could save you 10% of your fuel bill.
- Enjoy the bus or shuttle. Text or read safely while somebody else drives. IU students, faculty and staff can get a pass for the entire campus/city bus system. K-12 students get a free ride in those cool yellow buses. Teach your children how to ride the bus or walk or bike to school. Bloomington Shuttle buses operate on a regular schedule between Bloomington and Indianapolis International Airport.
- Telecommute. Ask your employer about their policy. Utilize online virtual meeting software or conference calls to cancel some of your road trips.
- Use muscle power. Bike, walk, jog or skate and enjoy the great outdoors in better health. Get your workout and your commute done at the same time, for free. Progressive employers provide perks like secure bike storage, showers and changing rooms.