This MUN engineering class has tips on how to save on gas

·2 min read
A first-year Memorial University engineering class is tackling the problem of rising gas prices.  (Submitted by Lesley James - image credit)
A first-year Memorial University engineering class is tackling the problem of rising gas prices. (Submitted by Lesley James - image credit)
Submitted by Lesley James
Submitted by Lesley James

A first-year engineering class at Memorial University is working out solutions on how to save money on gas as prices at the pumps continue to soar.

The cost per litre shot up again Tuesday by another nine cents, just days after the Newfoundland and Labrador government cut the provincial gas tax to help alleviate pain at the pumps.

Driving less is a surefire way to save hard earned money from being burned up by a vehicle, but driving smarter is also a solution.

So how do you do that?

Engineering professor Lesley James told CBC News to find an answer engineers need to be able to break down a problem into smaller parts to take away the complexity.

"It's important to understand the sensitivity of all the input parameters and which ones are contributing the most," she said.

"If we're looking at corrective behaviour for our driving, we can drive more slowly, especially on the highway, and around town it really gets to that acceleration — if we can accelerate smoothly when the light has turned green and do what's called predictive driving."

Weight inside the vehicle can also be a factor. James suggests removing excess cargo from a vehicle's trunk to help save on gas, but weight that's less than 10 per cent of the vehicle's own weight — including gas in the tanks — isn't really a factor, she said.

Axel Tardieu/CBC/Radio-Canada
Axel Tardieu/CBC/Radio-Canada

Student Moazzez Elshabasy said vehicle maintenance is also important. Ensuring that a vehicle's engine is properly tuned and tires are at an appropriate pressure will help keep consumption low, he said.

"It's not only good for fuel consumption but for the good of the car overall," he said.

Newfoundland is known for being a fairly windy place, which wreaks havoc on the fuel economy of vehicles that aren't particularly aerodynamic. So in warmer months, is it better to have the windows down or turn on the air conditioning to keep cool?

Student Miguel Pond said it's best to have windows up if driving over 70 km/h. Anything below that it's better to have windows down.

"As you open up your windows, you increase your drag coefficient," said Pond. "This is a much higher level of math that I've simply researched."

James said the tips her students have come up with will save drivers money in the long term.

"Over time I think you could easily save a tank a month almost," said James.

"If I change my behaviour and really practise what I just said … I'm able to save, for sure, a quarter-tank a week."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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