Lately it seems as though the price of gas keeps getting higher and higher. In fact, the last time I filled up my tank it was close to $4 a gallon! That adds up to quite a bit of money out of my monthly budget, so I’m always looking for ways to save on gas. It turns out, there are lots of little things that you can do to to improve your fuel efficiency and quite a few rewards programs that can help you save next time you pull up to the pump.

 

1. Drive the speed limit

Okay, I know that many of us are guilty of speeding (myself included), but you might be less likely to speed if you knew what it was really costing you. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most vehicles reach their optimal fuel economy at about 50 mph. This means that for every five miles per hour over 50, you’re essentially paying about 26 cents more per gallon! Okay, let’s do a little math here. Let’s say the speed limit is 50 and you drive 60. If you fill up a 12 gallon tank once a week, your speeding is costing you about $6 a week. You could have bought a latte and a muffin with that! The fact is, obeying the speed limit cannot only save you from getting a ticket, but it can optimize your fuel efficiency by up to 14 percent — and save you a ton of green.

2. Use fuel rewards from grocery stores

This is absolutely one of my favorite ways to save on fuel because you’re not just extending the gas that you have, you’re actually paying less out of pocket to fill up! There are quite a few supermarkets that offer fuel rewards, including Kroger, Safeway, Bi-Lo and Jewel Osco.

Bi-Lo and Jewel Osco (along with several other grocery stores) are part of the Fuel Rewards Network. This program allows you to earn gas rewards every time you buy groceries at these stores, and also when you eat out at select restaurants! You can earn between five and 10 cents in fuel rewards for every $50 that you spend, and rewards can be redeemed at participating Shell stations.

At both Kroger and Safeway you can earn one point for every dollar that you spend in the store. 100 points are worth 10 cents at the pump, and 1000 points are worth $1.00! As an added bonus, both Kroger and Safeway often have bonus points when you purchase gift cards, so I always make sure to grab any gift cards that I need while grocery shopping!

3. Buy reusable air filters

We all know the drill – you go to get your oil changed and they tell you that your air filter is dirty and needs to be changed. Since a clean air filter is a key component of getting good gas mileage, I used to always tell them to go ahead and change it but never really thought about all those old filters that end up in a landfill. Instead, consider a reusable air filter. These can last up to five years and, although they cost more up front (about $40 each), they can really save you in the long run. Another perk of reusable air filters? They are so easy to install and clean, most people find that they can do it themselves. However, a mechanic will install and clean these if you are unsure of how to do it or just don’t want to mess with it!

4. Credit card rewards

A few years back I decided to sign up for a credit card with a great rewards program — and what a difference it has made! Every year I get a nice chunk of change back just for purchasing gas (amongst other things) on my credit card! There are many cards that offer cash back on gas, as well as groceries. One of the best cards for gas rewards is the American Express Blue Cash card. This card has no annual fee and offers two percent cash back on gas and three percent on groceries. Another card with gas rewards is the Chase Freedom card, which offers five percent back on select categories, which change every quarter. Gas is included at least one quarter of the year and there is no annual fee on the Chase Freedom card. Other cards that offer at least two percent back on gas are the Discover More card and the Chase Ink Business card.

5. Keep your tires properly inflated

This is one of the top culprits of lousy gas mileage. In fact, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by over three percent! Tires can lose air over time and with temperature changes, so it is important to check them at least once a month. Another tip — check them when they are cold. If you’ve been driving for a while, the tires and the air inside them gets warm and can give a false reading.

6. Ditch the weight

My car seems to accumulate junk faster than a dump truck, and, I have to admit, I’m always lazy about cleaning it out. However, extra weight can really take a toll on your efficiency. In fact, the U.S Department of Energy estimates that every 100 pounds of extra weight your car is carrying can cost up to two percent of your fuel efficiency. So ditch the junk in your trunk as well as rooftop cargo carriers, if you’re not currently using them.

7. Use your phone to find the cheapest gas

I used to always go to the same gas station because it was so convenient, but once I realized that there are apps for tracking gas prices, I discovered that there were much cheaper stations right around the block! There are quite a few apps out there that will locate gas stations near you and allow you to check prices, but two of my favorites are Fuel Finder and Yellow Pages Local Search and Gas Prices.

The YP app is quite comprehensive, giving you gas prices, directions to each station as well as a map view. This app also color codes the listings by highlighting the best gas prices in green and the good ones in yellow. YP Local Search and Gas finder is free and is available for iPhone, Blackberry, Palm and Android.

Fuel Finder also allows you to search gas stations in your area to find the lowest priced fuel, but it also offers several other features — a savings calculator, an "on fumes" mode to help you find the closest station, and the ability to email a friend good gas prices that you find. Fuel Finder is $2.99 and is available for iPhone and Android.

7 Ways to Save on Fuel