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 NJ contractor since 1994, and a father, and husband. Contact me for all your construction questions.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Tips to beat the economic downfalls

I find that alot of construction people as well as people in general have lost, or have had their jobs cut back. Hopefully things will get better, so I thought today to share some tips on how to save until then.

#  Insurance. Everybody knows that insurance companies make a killing from charging high premiums on the every day middle-class person, whether it be your it be house,car,health (especially in America) business insurance the premiums are just to high and are putting a lot of pressure and stress on people! Now with the economic downturn every company (including insurance companies) have to offer lower prices! Shop around, look up the price comparison websites and you will be amazed at the savings you can make!
#  When doing your shopping only do a shopping once a week! People don't recognize that when you do your food shopping a bit here and a bit there the prices you are being charged are astronomical! Do one big shopping for the week! Try it and compare your receipts! You will not be disappointed!
#  Saving on your electricity bill! This one is especially applicable to students! When leaving a room make sure everything is turned off and unplugged! what most people don't know is that when an electrical appliance is plugged in but not on it still uses electricity! Yes i know how you feel!Its called vampire electricity and contributes to 50% of the average persons electricity bill! Use energy-saving light bulbs, a small investment at first but you will make this back very fast as some use as little as 30% of what the traditional ligthbubs use!
#  Walk or cycle short journeys instead of siting in traffic burning expensive petrol! It is also nice to relax from the pressures of everyday life!

Gas saving ideas
 Gas prices keep going up, and the money in our wallet keeps evaporating more quickly. There are many ways you can save or spend less money on gas and reduce your overall fuel consumption. But, you must think it through and begin formulating new plans! One technique that has been around for a while but has drawn more attention recently is Save Gas Money by Hypermiling, Auto Advertising, and Basic Car Maintenance.

 Change those spark plugs! Platinum spark plugs may claim to last 100,000 miles, but I've seen them foul up at just 75,000 miles. Spark plugs are relatively inexpensive and (depending on the vehicle) easy to replace. If you're not that handy or mechanically inclined, read some auto repair books or be-friend a mechanic.
 Limit Your Driving in Order to Save Money. Find Good Gas Prices.  Maintain a Car,Take care of your car. A properly maintained vehicle will run more efficiently and give you better mileage, which saves you money in gas.
Fill up efficiently. This involves three things:
Fill the tank full. If you need to fill up, fill up all the way. The more money you try to save by adding $10 today and then $20 tomorrow will be wasted since each time you will have to travel to the station and wait for a pump. Instead, do it all at once to save time and money.
Don't top up your tank between fills. It is wasted money and bad for the environment because it invariably forces liquid fuel into the evaporate emissions system where it overwhelms circuits that are supposed to only route fuel tank vapors to the engine while it is running and can be burned.
Wait until you have a quarter tank but don't push this any further.  Doing this can extend your gas because you are hauling a lighter fuel load. It also gives you the opportunity to buy more gas if you run across a bargain. However, in cold weather, you run an increased risk of condensation in the fuel tank. Running a car with less than a quarter tank can shorten the life of the electric fuel pump and running on empty will often destroy the pump.
Top off the air in the tires every few weeks to the car manufacturer's recommended pressure.  This is best done when the tires are cold (have not been driven on more than a mile or so) -- it is proper for them to have a few psi higher pressure after extensive driving, but filling them hot should generally be avoided unless they are very low on air to avoid inaccuracy.  Excessive pressure adds very little efficiency and can cause bad handling and uneven tire wear.  Some gas stations, have air pumps that are free to use and automatically inflate the tires to a pressure set on the pump.  These are very convenient.  (If an automatic pump seems to be adding an unexpectedly large amount of air, double-check its progress with a hand air gauge to avoid overfilling.)
Buy a diesel. Some diesel cars offer mileage comparable to popular hybrids. Getting a diesel car also allows for use of bio-diesel or even waste vegetable oil (WVO/SVO) fuel.  But diesel pricing can vary widely from traditional petrol.
Buy a hybrid. Not only do hybrids give you immediate savings at the pump, the U.S. government and your local state offer tax breaks for people who use gas-saving cars.  Federal deductions for using gas-saving cars can be as high as $2,000, but check before buying to see if they're still in effect.  Also, check with your insurance company because Hybrids have higher insurance rates.
Buy a smaller car. Generally speaking, smaller cars are lighter and get better mileage.
Buy a motorcycle or scooter instead of a car. They are cheaper and often get 70 MPG or better. Riding gear is available for most weather conditions. A good example is the Kawasaki EX250, which costs about $3,000, gets 60-70 MPG at highway speeds, and can go 0-60 MPH in under 6 seconds!

Avoid idling. While idling, your car gets exactly 0 miles per gallon while starting the car uses the same amount as idling for 6 seconds. Park your car and go into the restaurant rather than idling in the drive-through. Idling with the air conditioning on also uses extra fuel. Also, avoid going so fast that you have to brake for someone. Whenever you brake, you waste the gas it took to get going that fast.  This can prevent wasting fuel and wasting time. Plan to use alternative routes.  Often back roads can prevent you from stopping at traffic lights and more importantly sitting in traffic jams. Try to schedule your trips and errands when traffic is lighter.
Use a global positioning system (GPS) to help you navigate and find the fastest and shortest distance to your destination.  Avoiding hills and stops will increase your gas mileage.
Drive at a consistent speed. Avoid quick acceleration and hard braking. Cruise control will keep you at a constant speed, even when going up and down hills.
Avoid stops.  If approaching a red light, see if you can slow down enough o avoid having to actually stop (because you reach the light after it is green). Speeding up from 5 or 10 miles per hour will be easier on the gas than starting from full stop.
Predict Traffic Signals Anticipate the stop signs and lights. Look far ahead; get to know your usual routes. You can let up on the gas earlier. Coasting to a stop will save the gasoline you would otherwise use maintaining your speed longer. If it just gets you to the end of a line of cars at a red light or a stop sign a few seconds later, it won't add any time to your trip. Ditto for coasting to lose speed before a highway off-ramp: if it means you catch up with that truck halfway around the curve instead of at the beginning, you haven't lost any time. In many cities, if you know the streets well, you can time the lights and maintain the appropriate speed to hit all green lights. Usually this is about 35 to 40 MPH.
Maintain a safe following distance. Don't stick to the bumper of the car directly in front of you. You will brake more and accelerate more to keep that unnecessary and dangerous narrow gap. This also gives you a lot more room to play with when you are timing traffic signals.
Slow down. Air resistance goes up as the square of velocity. The power consumed to overcome that air resistance goes up as the cube of the velocity. Rolling resistance is the dominant force below about 40 mph. Above that, every mph costs you mileage. Go as slow as traffic and your schedule will allow. Drive under 60-65 since air grows exponentially denser, in the aerodynamic sense, the faster we drive.  To be precise, the most efficient speed is your car's minimum speed in it's highest gear, since this provides the best "speed per RPM" ratio. This is usually about 45 to 55 miles per hour.
Take off slowly from a full stop.  This is one adjustment that will have dramatic effects on your gas mileage; don't tear off from a stoplight or stop sign!
Stay well away from store fronts where you will spend significantly more time idling and waiting for pedestrians and other vehicles.
Use A/C only on the highway. At lower speeds, open the windows.  This increased the drag and reduces fuel efficiency, but not as much as the AC at low speeds (35-40 mph).  Even better, at any speed, turn on the vent when it is cool outside or open windows just a few inches.  The air con - when used a lot - is known to use up about 8% of the fuel you put into your car.
Shift into neutral if you are not comfortable with downshifting. Standard transmission vehicles may save gas by shifting into neutral when going down hills steep enough to maintain speed (although engine braking is safer on steeper declines).  Do not do this in a Hybrid car, they use this "regenerative engine braking" to generate electricity and charge the batteries Also, if you own a car with fuel injection, it is more efficient to keep the car in a high gear while going down hills. Simply take your foot off the gas.
Park in the shade. Gasoline actually evaporates right out of your tank, and it does so faster when you park directly in the sun - winter or summer. Parking in the shade also keeps it cooler inside, and you will need less A/C to cool off when you get back in. If there is no shade available, park so that your gas tank (the actual tank under the car, not the valve to fill it) is facing away from the direct sun.  Also, today's fuel systems are supposed to be airtight.  Your gas cap should have a seal in it.  Make sure that the seal is keeping the fumes in and outside air out.
Most car modifications do not improve mileage. Extra wings add drag. Power improvements often hurt mileage. However, if your car is turbocharged, chip tuning may result in a mileage boost. The mileage boost will be canceled out if you drive more aggressively due to power improvements.
Many of these tips change slightly if your engine is turbocharged or diesel. For instance, diesel engines use almost no fuel while idling. Diesel trucks will often be left idling all night to provide heat or power for the trucker inside the cab, at the cost of relatively little fuel.
Keep meticulous records of what you spend and how many miles you drive so you can quickly spot changes in vehicle performance.  It will also help focus you on the goal of saving.
Every MPH faster yields you less advantage than the last one.  Going 10MPH is a big difference over 5MPH, but there is very little difference between 55MPH and 60MPH, unless you are on a very long trip.  Many people mindlessly speed wherever they go, and gain absolutely nothing but a heftier fuel bill.  Assuming everything goes perfectly (and when does it?) going 5MPH, even 15MPH faster on a highway for a short trip will yield nothing but aggravation as you keep catching up to slower traffic.
*Often the right-most lanes keep moving more than the left-most in areas prone to traffic-jams.  Vehicles continue to exit, which keeps leaving 'gaps' to fill in.
A manual transmission saves an average $1000 on the cost of a new vehicle, and eliminates routine transmission maintenance that an automatic transmission requires (and most people never do this maintenance once the warranty is up - so a used car with an automatic can be a risky purchase).  In some cases, a manual transmission gets slightly better mileage overall than an automatic transmission.
Neutral is also a 'gear' on a manual transmission, which you use constantly anyway.  Learn how to coast between traffic lights, applying power only as needed to keep the car rolling (more or less) with traffic.  Learn to judge terrain and use neutral to its full potential to keep the car moving 'for free', and save more gas over time.
If you are always stuck in rush hour traffic after work anyway, try to find something to do near your work until the traffic dies down, rather than try to fight through it.

Stopping and starting the engine frequently will cause extra wear. Don't stop the engine if you are going to idle for less than a minute.
*In very cold environments, it is recommended to allow the vehicle to idle and warm up, rather than just start it and take off.  You might save gas, but your engine oil won't do its job until it's fully liquid, so you'll spend more money on overhauls.
Drafting is dangerous.  All the fuel savings in the world will not matter a bit if you get wrecked while 'trying to save gas'.  Safe driving habits will save a lot more money than risky driving, and maybe even save lives.  Slow down.  Be careful.
Nearly all gas-saving devices do not work, and some even decrease fuel mileage. Intake twisters, gas pills and fuel line magnets do not help mileage. Even if the mileage improvement claims were true, they often cost enough to negate any potential savings.
Be very careful when shifting into neutral when going down hills.  You may find yourself going a lot faster than you thought you would.  This is actually ''illegal'' in some jurisdictions.  It is illegal in all US DOT jurisdictions. "Coasting" disengages the engine from the transmission. This allows for uncontrolled motion. If you read any State Driving manual you will learn that Coasting is unlawful. It can be unwise due to the change in how the automobile reacts to the braking motion when you disengage the engine from the drive train.
Motorcycles and other unenclosed vehicles are extremely dangerous.  Some, but not all, of this danger can be reduced by driving carefully and attentively.
Keeping tires at the correct air pressure can go a long ways towards saving more money on gasoline costs.