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5 ways to save gas money this summer

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Whether you're planning a summer road trip this year or simply driving to the local pool on weekends, chances are you'll feel the pinch of rising gas prices over the next few months. The national average price for regular unleaded gas is up to $3.65 a gallon as of last week, according to the AAA.

Arkansas currently has the lowest gas price in the nation, at $3.39 as of the end of May, while Hawaii has the most expensive at $4.35, according to GasBuddy.

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"Highway robbery is still the scene at the pump for American drivers," Chris Faulkner, CEO of Texas-based Breitling Energy Co. and an energy expert, said in an email. "To keep your wallet and the planet green this summer, arm yourself with these little-known and truly effortless tricks guaranteed to save fuel."

We've all heard we should buy a hybrid car or change the way we drive to maximize fuel efficiency, but let's be realistic: Hybrid cars can be expensive and we're not all the smoothest drivers on the road.

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Instead, we can follow these surprisingly easy tips to curb our gas spending:

1. Avoid the convenient gas station near your house or on the side of the highway. Instead, use a gas app such as GasBuddy for your smartphone, to locate the cheapest gas near you.

2. Fill up your tank early on Wednesday or Thursday mornings – not over the weekend. Gas station owners typically increase gas prices on Thursday at 10 a.m. in anticipation of the weekend. So avoid filling up the tank between Friday and Sunday. Just do it earlier.

3. Park in the shade. "Gasoline evaporates right out of your fuel tank, and regardless of the season, it will do so quicker when you park in the sun," says Faulkner. Parking in the shade also maintains a cooler temperature in your car, which means you won't be using air conditioning as much, which consumes gas. Buying gas at the coolest times of the day also helps reduce gas evaporation.

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4. Keep your windows closed when driving on a highway, as that could reduce your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, according to Faulkner. But you should open them in stop-and-go traffic and turn the A/C off if you possibly can for additional cost savings.

5. Buy discount gas gift cards or find coupons. You can also choose to be loyal to one gas company and get rewarded with its cash-back credit card reward program.

By Marine Cole, The Fiscal Times

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