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3 driving habits to save at the pump

Driving during the holidays? Follow these tips to save money on gas.

Gas is nowhere near the $4-a-gallon peak it hit almost a decade ago, but it’s still creeping up. A gallon of regular is around $2.50 nationwide these days, and that’s up about 13 percent over a year ago, according to government figures.

If that’s causing a bit of a burn on your budget, well, maybe it’s time to give these gas-saving habits a try.

First, get the lead out and keep it sleek. Extra weight and poor aerodynamics are natural enemies to fuel economy, so move out all that old sports equipment in your trunk and take off the roof rack when you aren’t using it. Ditch the sunroof and window reflectors, too. They might keep wind noise in check during open-air driving, but they’ll wreck your aerodynamics and mileage all year long.

Next, get the leadfoot out. Go easy on the gas: Jackrabbit starts and full-throttle acceleration boost fuel consumption quite a bit. Mind your top speed, too. Wind resistance increases exponentially with speed, so as your velocity gets past normal highway speeds, mileage drops dramatically.

Finally, keep those tires properly inflated. Underinflated tires can lower mileage by entire miles per gallon; they’re also at higher risk for blowouts.

That’s all low-hanging fruit when it comes to saving fuel. But if you go out and pick all of it, you could eke out a few extra miles — or a few dozen extra miles — between fill-ups.