For Immediate Release - June 29, 2005

Money Saving Tips To Hit The Street & Beat The Heat

State Recommends Simple Steps to Offset Higher Temperatures and Rising Gasoline & Energy Costs

With the 4 th of July just days away and the busiest driving season off and running, the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs is advising consumers of ways to save money and stay cool amidst hot temperatures, increased energy demand and uncertainty over rising gasoline prices.

Crude oil prices reached a record high of $60.00 a barrel this week and will continue to impact gasoline prices accordingly. Current average prices are $2.23/gallon for regular unleaded and $2.49/gallon for premium unleaded. Last week, those prices were four cents lower. At this time last month, regular unleaded averaged $2.13/gallon and premium unleaded was $2.38/gallon.

Consumer Affairs Director Beth Lindstrom wants to make sure consumers get what they pay for at the pump. "In addition to comparisons of wholesale gasoline costs, we spot check gas stations to guard against price gouging and octane switching. We'll be keeping a close eye on stations throughout the state during this busy season, but consumers need to make comparing prices at the pumps a regular routine," said Director Lindstrom.

So far this year, inspectors with the Division of Standards have conducted spot checks at 259 retail service stations, tested 2,735 motor fuel meters for accuracy and investigated 127 consumer complaints, resulting in seventeen civil citations for various motor fuel violations.

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Division of Energy Resources offer the following suggestions and routines at the gas pump and in the home in order for consumers to contain costs during the expensive summer months.

Tips for at the Pump and On the Road

  • Keep track of weekly gasoline price surveys. Compare prices at gas stations in your area or along your commuting route. Go to the Division of Energy Resources website at www.mass.gov/doer to consult links for the most recent and lowest prices.
  • If there's no price on a gas pump or the price is inconsistent with other signage, speak with the service manager before you pump.
  • Check your car owner's manual for the recommended octane level. If it doesn't call for premium octane, don't use it. Most cars run well on lower octane gas.
  • Make fuel efficiency part of the decision-making process if you are considering buying or renting a car.
  • Drive the speed limit. It's the law and driving faster uses more gasoline.
  • Keep your car well maintained and tuned. Properly inflated and aligned tires and clean air filters help maximize fuel efficiency.

Stay Cool at Home and Save on Electricity

  • Close draperies or shades during the day to block the sun, especially on windows that face south or west. Open them in the evening to let cooler air in.
  • Keep cool air in by installing insulation and weather-stripping.
  • Turn off lights when not in use. Switch from incandescent to cooler fluorescent bulbs.
  • Cook on the grill to keep cooking heat outside. When using the stove, vent cooking heat outside with a range hood.
  • Microwaves use less than half the power of a conventional oven.
  • Postpone doing laundry and dishwashing until evening to avoid peak-electric use hours. Use the air-dry feature on dishwashers.
  • Service air conditioners annually and be sure the air conditioner is the right size for the area. Change the filter regularly. Choose an air conditioner with the Energy Star label.
  • Close doors to unused rooms. Turn air conditioners off when no one is home.
  • Use an attic fan to draw hot air out of the attic. Use house fans to draw fresh air in through windows. Use ceiling fans to circulate air.

Consumers can also take advantage of ratepayer sponsored energy efficiency programs offered by MassSave by calling 1-866-527-SAVE (7283) or visiting its website at www.masssave.com.