Fuel-saving tips you might have overlooked

Try vacationing at a neighbor's house instead of driving great distances. It saves on gas.

Sky-high fuel prices are not going away. You can fight back by following these simple but effective suggestions.

1. Use fuel slowly. If you use it fast, it won't last as long.

2. Don't lose fuel. When you put fuel somewhere, make a note of the location so you can be sure and find it later when you need it.

3. Never loan fuel, even to friends or relatives. Studies have shown that in many cases, people who borrow fuel never bring it back.

4. Make sure the fuel you're buying is genuine. Whenever a commodity goes up in value, criminals attempt to swindle unsuspecting consumers. For example, if anyone ever offers to sell you a 55-gallon drum that has the words "Radioactive Waste" crossed out and replaced with "Fuel," there is cause for concern.

5. Do not respond to ads on TV or in newspapers saying "We pay big money for your old fuel!" Never send fuel through the mail for a "free appraisal." These are typical methods used to perpetuate fuel fraud.

6. Avoid long trips that consume large amounts of fuel by finding places to visit that are close to home. Start by knocking on doors along your street. In many areas, neighbors turn out to be fascinating people. Some of them may have backyard swimming pools, hammocks, and other amenities that rival any destination resort.

7. Educate family members about the importance of conserving fuel. If you overhear your child playing with dolls and planning a pretend party at the beach, intervene quickly. Tell her it would be much more fuel-efficient to have the dolls relax on the back patio and do some serious reading. You can even make this into a craft activity by using paper and glue to construct doll-size pretend editions of Proust, Stendhal, and Thomas Hardy.

8. Develop positive emotions about fuel. Feelings of contempt, disdain, or hostility toward any aspect of your daily life can disrupt your ability to make good decisions involving the object of your scorn. Treat fuel as you wish to be treated. If you need a special phrase to maintain this mind-set, repeat as often as needed: "My fuel, myself."

Jeffrey Shaffer writes humor from Portland, Ore.

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