Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A little lesson learned

Not all things are created equal, and I learned that this applies to the fuel in your gas tank as well.

We have a wide variety of gas stations to choose from, many of them have fuel blends that are specific to the chain selling the fuel. Some stations are cheaper than others, sometimes by a significant amount. We're all on a budget these days, so we go for the cheapest station that we can reasonably get to, right?

That may not make the best financial sense, believe it or not.

We discovered this the hard way when driving out to our future build site. There is a Hess station near to our house that has the cheapest gas in the area. It's quite conveniently located so that we can stop there and get right on the main road leading to the highway which takes us in the direction we need to go. It also just so happened that we'd acquired a little app for our mobile devices to keep track of mileage and expenses on our CR-V a few months back. Lucky for us it's saved us more than the app itself cost.

After fueling up at the Hess, we started our journey. The CR-V will make it to the destination with about 1/3 tank remaining, necessitating a fill-up before heading back home. Upon entering the data in the app (current odometer, gallons, price), much to our surprise it showed 14 MPG! Immediately I got worried that something was wrong with the vehicle; an oxygen sensor failing, a mass airflow sensor failing - something that was going to be expensive to replace. This is our only car, we couldn't afford to have it die on us, especially hours from home. The thing is, there were no unusual issues with the car; no vibrations, sounds, smells or gauge readings. We got home OK.

Next fill up, CostCo. MPG? 24. Huh. The problem "fixed" itself. We kept a good eye on the car, still unsure whether something was going to break or not.

Back out to the property a couple of weeks later, filled up again at the Hess. Upon gassing up for the return: 15 MPG! Again, the worry that something might be wrong with the car, possibly related to highway travel.

Back home, CostCo fill-up. 24 MPG.

The third trip out to the property with Hess gas again a few weeks later and another fill-up gives 17 MPG. The pattern is now obvious to us, especially with the normal combined city/highway mileage average of 24-25 MPG on gas from CostCo.

Hess is ripping us off. Leading us in with a cheap price, but taking more back in reduced efficiency!

"But the gas is still cheaper!" You say. The Hess gas was the same or a few cents cheaper than CostCo. But - the app revealed that the Hess gas costs $0.25 cents per mile, while the CostCo gas costs $0.15 cents per mile. We were losing 7-10 MPG while driving with Hess fuel!

Ten cents per every mile driven, out of your pocket.

Now, I realize that this seem a bit of a rant, but that is not the intent. This is just another factor to consider when you are looking at that out-of-the-way plot of Earth to plunk your dream house on. That extra expense that could add up to a lot of money over years of driving, and that money that can be spent on building materials, food, family, retirement, you name it. Take the time someday to see how your car does over a few different fill-ups, try a different gas station. See what happens and save yourself some money.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Shire No More

I posted briefly about this way back in the early days of the blog. It was a housing development that was fantasy based, and had a few elements of Tolkien's Hobbit's homes about it. It appears that The Shire has fallen on hard times. The WSJ article: