7 strategies to save gas at the cottage

For most of us, time at the cottage also means a stop at the pumps—and with gas prices shooting up every weekend, we could all be forgiven for deciding to forego the car and boat in favour of a horse-drawn carriage and water wings.

But before you abandon combustion engines completely, check out our tips to make your gas guzzlers as efficient as possible.

Keep your engine tuned up and clean

Don’t let maintenance slide. A dirty engine—whether it’s in your car, boat or hedge trimmers—is an inefficient engine, meaning it has to burn more fuel to get the same output. Sticking to a regular maintenance schedule will help keep your engine humming save on major repair costs down the road and help save gas.

Lighten your load

On the boat, clean out the bilge and your lockers—empty out anything extra you won’t need on your trip. In a car, pack lightly. Try to keep a list of what you use and don’t use on each trip, so you don’t end up bringing more than you need. On your boat, try running on the bottom half of the fuel tank—yes, you’ll have to refuel more often, but you’ll increase your efficiency.

Watch wind

Wind resistance is a big factor in gas consumption. In a car, driving with your windows closed and the air conditioner on when you’re on the highway is more efficient than keeping your windows open. (The opposite tends to be true if you’re driving more slowly.) If you’re carrying things on your roof, consider investing in a roof box to keep your load streamlined. (Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do with a canoe.) On a boat, take off the canvas and, if you’re going to run fast, take the top down.

Use the power of nature when you can

If you’re driving, coast to a stop and down hills. If you’re boating, use the current or tides to push you along. Try and run with the wind at your back. And if your cottage requires landscaping, consider buying a push mower—you’ll get exercise and significantly reduce your gas consumption and environmental impact.

Slow down

You save big bucks on gas when you go the speed limit or lay off the throttle. Driving 30 km above the speed limit (not a good idea anyway) will raise your fuel consumption by about 20 percent. Try to keep your speed as consistent as possible, too—use cruise control or autopilot to keep your pace steady.

Don’t idle

Many municipalities have anti-idling laws, and for good reason. Why run your engine if you aren’t going anywhere? If you’re going to be stationary for more than 30 seconds (except in traffic, of course), turn the engine off. If you’re going in the house to grab the phone or get a drink, don’t leave the car running.

Change what you own

Where possible, try not to buy gas-guzzling engines. Do you really need a fleet of Jet Skis? Do you really have enough lawn to justify a gas-powered mower? Purchase things with conservation in mind, and you’ll end up saving a lot more than money and gas.