Want to beat the Carbon Levy? Be a smart driver

When the clock struck midnight on December 31, Alberta’s carbon levy swung into gear, raising the price of fuel. And experts say it's going to get more expensive, so you'll want to take steps to make your dollars stretch this year.

The Alberta Motor Association has some money-saving tips to help drivers save at the pump. And according to Ron Wilson, who helped develop AMA’s online Fuel Efficient Driver Course, which they’ve been offering since 2012, it starts with some simple driving habits that are good for your wallet, your vehicle, and the environment.

  • Reduce your speed. With most vehicles, increasing your cruising speed from 100 km/h to 120 km/h will increase your fuel consumption by about 20%. On the other hand, reducing your speed from 100 km/h to 90 km/h improves fuel economy by about 10%. You can save up to 30% on fuel costs by managing your cruising speed.

  • Don't drive aggressively. Speeding, jackrabbit starts and hard stops can increase fuel consumption by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% around town.

  • Check tire pressure monthly. One tire under-inflated by 8 psi can reduce the life of the tire by 15, 000 km and increase the vehicle's fuel consumption by 4%.

  • Change your oil regularly. Dirty oil makes your engine work harder. Regular oil changes not only reduce emissions but can increase gas mileage by up to 12%, so you can stay on the road longer before needing to fill up.

  • Replace air filters. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much at 10%.

  • Use a block heater. Block heaters can help reduce overall winter fuel consumption by 10%.

  • Travel light. Don't use your vehicle for stowage of irrelevant articles. For every 50kg of useless weight being carried around, fuel consumption will increase.

  • Reduce unnecessary idling. Ten seconds of idling uses more fuel than restarting your engine. And for every 10 minutes of idling, the average vehicle uses about one-third of a litre of fuel. Turn your engine off if you're stopped for more than 60 seconds, except while in traffic.

  • Carpool. Cut your weekly costs by up to 50% and save wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Drivers of compact cars that carpool twice a week can save up to $507 a year in fuel costs.