Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pee a Problem Pollutant In The U.S.

In the U.S., people eat more protein than they need to. And though it might not be bad for human health, this excess does pose a problem for the country’s waterways. The nation’s wastewater is laden with the leftovers from protein digestion: nitrogen compounds that can feed toxic algal blooms and pollute the air and drinking water. This source of nitrogen pollution even rivals that from fertilizers washed off of fields growing food crops, new research suggests.

When we overconsume protein—whether it comes from lentils, supplements or steak—our body breaks the excess down into urea, a nitrogen-containing compound that exits the body via urine and ultimately ends up in sewage. Maya Almaraz, a biogeochemist at the University of California, Davis, and her colleagues wanted to see how much of this nitrogen is being flushed into the U.S. sewage system because of a protein-heavy diet.

The researchers combined population data and previous work on how much excess protein the average American eats and found that the majority of nitrogen pollution present in wastewater—some 67 to 100 percent—is a by-product of what people consume. “We think a lot about sewage nitrogen. We know that’s an issue,” Almaraz says. “But I didn’t know how much of that is actually affected by the choices we’re making way upstream—when we go the grocery store, when we cook a meal and what we end up putting in our bodies.”

Once it enters the environment, the nitrogen in urea can trigger a spectrum of ecological impacts known as the “nitrogen cascade.” Under certain chemical conditions, and in the presence of particular microbes, urea can break down to form gases of oxidized nitrogen. These gases reach the atmosphere, where nitrous oxide (N2O) can contribute to warming via the greenhouse effect and nitrogen oxides (NOx) can cause acid rain.

Other times, algae and cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria also called blue-green algae, feed on urea directly. The nitrogen helps them grow much faster than they would normally, clogging vital water supplies with blooms that can produce toxins that are harmful to humans, other animals and plants. And when the algae eventually die, the problem is not over. Microorganisms that feast on dead algae use up oxygen in the water, leading to “dead zones,” where many aquatic species simply cannot survive, in rivers, lakes and oceans. Blooms from Puget Sound to Tampa, Fla., have caused large fish die-offs.

Although it is possible to treat algal blooms, many of the current methods—such as spraying clay particles or chemicals over the surface of a bloom to kill and sink the algae—are not always effective at eliminating all of the harmful growth. Some of these methods can even lead to additional pollution. So the best strategy for dealing with the effects of nitrogen pollution is prevention, says Patricia Glibert, an oceanographer at the University of Maryland, who was not involved with the new study.

One option for preventing nitrogen from getting into the environment is improving wastewater treatment plants. The technology exists to remove 90 percent of nitrogen from wastewater, but only 1 percent of all U.S. sewage is currently treated this way, partly because the technology is so expensive. Equipping plants in China to remove nitrogen from three quarters of the country’s urban sewage cost more than $20 billion. Almaraz and her team suggest, however, that curbing nitrogen pollution could be approached more quickly with a change in eating habits that could save billions of dollars in the long term.

Their new study, published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, broke down protein requirements by age (adults 50 to 70 years old need the most) for the current U.S. population and projected future populations out to 2055. By midcentury, the country’s population is expected to be larger overall and to have a greater percentage of older people. The researchers calculated the amount of nitrogen that would enter the environment if people ate today’s average American diet and if they instead reduced their protein intake to only what is nutritionally needed.

This shift in diet alone could reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching aquatic ecosystems by 12 percent today and by nearly 30 percent in the future, according to the study’s results. Such a change could also help reduce damaging nitrogen pollution while wastewater infrastructure catches up. “Many people think that we need to all switch to becoming vegetarians. Obviously, that’s not practical. That’s not something that is really ever going to happen,” Glibert says.

Rather than cutting out any foods entirely, she suggests consumers could switch to a “demitarian” diet—an approach that focuses on reducing the consumption of meat and dairy, which currently make up about two thirds of the protein eaten in the U.S. “Enjoy your steak, enjoy your burger but go modest on your meat consumption in your following meal,” she says.

“One cool area that opens up here is how human behavior can influence our environment,” Almaraz says. “I think it can be really empowering to people to understand that, ‘hey, my choices—once those add up with other people making similar choices—can actually have a positive impact.’”

Source: Eating Too Much Protein Makes Pee a Problem Pollutant in the U.S. – Scientific American

Critics by  

Protein buildup in the kidneys creates a much more acidic environment in the kidneys, causing you to have to pee all the time. Increased acid production can also cause problems in the bones and liver. Side effects start with mild dehydration but can lead to the development of kidney stones, which are intensely painful. One interesting note-researchers found that plant and dairy proteins had a much lower negative effect on renal function than nondairy animal protein (meat) did.

high-protein diet might have helped you tone up for summer or get closer to your goal weight, but could it also be contributing to your blue mood? Maybe. Especially if your protein-to-carb ratio is way off base. Carbs run the show in your brain, telling it what to do and how to do it. Carbohydrates are specifically responsible for releasing serotonin-your body’s “feel good” hormone. One study from the American Medical Association on the psychological effects of low-fat and low-carb diets found that people who adhered to a high-protein, high-fat and low-carb diet for a year experienced more anxiety, depression and other negative feelings than those on a low-fat, high-carb, moderate-protein diet.

High-protein diets are often low in fiber-especially when your main protein sources are from animal products-which can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Fiber helps move everything along through your intestines, and it can only be found in plant foods. Simply mixing up your protein intake with foods that deliver both fiber and protein, like whole grains, beans or tempeh, can make a huge impact. Also, try ramping up your fruit and vegetable intake to get way more health benefits than just getting regular again.

Think protecting your body from chronic diseases and weight gain, and keeping your gut healthy, just to name a few. High-protein diets are often praised for helping people drop a dress size or two in as short as a week-but the long-term effects aren’t as desirable. Following a high-protein diet often means eating very few carbs, which isn’t sustainable for most of us in the long run. This can lead to food cravings and less energy to get your morning workout in, and can make you regain the weight you worked so hard to lose.

Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist who has spent years studying the brain-weight link. She told EatingWell, “Don’t do anything to lose weight you’re not willing to do forever.” This is because your brain can certainly adjust its behaviors once you lose the weight, but it needs you to continue your efforts in order to maintain it. Opting for restrictive diets-like keto-may not be your best bet for long-term health after all.

Even if you’re someone who gets those coveted eight hours of sleep every night, eating too much protein can still leave your body tired for several reasons. First, we now know that overconsumption can put a strain on your kidneys, liver and bones-causing them to work overtime. Also, eating too few carbs can really affect our brains-preventing us from being sharp, focused and energized each day.

Since carbs are your brain’s main source of energy, you probably want to increase your intake of healthy ones, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, to get you back to your best. Not only can this help you get your energy back, but you’ll be getting more of the vitamins, minerals and fiber that your body needs to be healthy and happy overall.

If you or someone you know has tried the keto diet, you’ve likely head of the term “keto breath.” This happens when you’re focused more on consuming protein and fat instead of healthy carbs: your body has to adjust and produces ketones that smell awful, like acetone (yes, the ingredient in nail polish remover!).

Trying to find a more balanced approach when it comes to macronutrient consumption will help your body get up and running on carbs again and get your breath nice and fresh once more. Simply swapping out several sources of animal protein for plant versions-like whole grains and beans-each week will still keep your protein intake at the high end of your daily needs, while increasing your intake of healthy carbs.

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Why Inflation Looks Likely To Stay Above The Pre-Pandemic Norm

The bad news on inflation just keeps coming. At more than 9% year on year across the rich world, it has not been this high since the 1980s—and there have never been so many “inflation surprises”, where the data have come in higher than economists’ forecasts (see chart). This, in turn, is taking a heavy toll on the economy and financial markets.

Central banks are raising interest rates and ending bond-buying schemes, crushing equities. Consumer confidence in many places is now even lower than it was in the early days of the covid-19 pandemic. “Real-time” economic indicators of everything from housing activity to manufacturing output suggest that economic growth is slowing sharply.

What consumer prices do next is therefore one of the most important questions for the global economy. Many forecasters expect that annual inflation will soon ebb, in part because of last year’s sharp increases in commodity prices falling out of the year-on-year comparison. In its latest economic projections the Federal Reserve, for instance, expects annual inflation in America (as measured by the personal-consumption-expenditure index) to fall from 5.2% at the end of this year to 2.6% by the end of 2023.

You might be forgiven for not taking these prognostications too seriously. After all, most economists failed to see the inflationary surge coming, and then wrongly predicted it would quickly fade. In a paper published in May, Jeremy Rudd of the Fed made a provocative point: “Our understanding of how the economy works—as well as our ability to predict the effects of shocks and policy actions—is in my view no better today than it was in the 1960s.” The future path of inflation is, to a great extent, shrouded in uncertainty.

Some indicators point to more price pressure to come in the near term. Alternative Macro Signals, a consultancy, runs millions of news articles through a model to construct a “news inflation pressure index”. The results, which are more timely than the official inflation figures, measure not just how frequently price pressures are mentioned, but also whether the news flow suggests that pressures are building up. In both America and the euro area the index is still miles above 50, indicating that pressures are continuing to build.

Inflation worry-warts can point to three other indicators suggesting that the rich world is unlikely to return to the pre-pandemic norm of low, stable price growth any time soon: rising wage growth, and increases in the inflation expectations of both consumers and companies. If sustained, these could together contribute to what the Bank for International Settlements, the central bank for central banks, describes in a report published on June 26th as a “tipping point”. Beyond it, warns the bis, “an inflationary psychology” could spread and become “entrenched”.

Evidence is mounting that workers are starting to bargain for higher wages. This could create another round of price increases as firms pass on these extra costs. A survey by the Bank of Spain suggests that half of collective-bargaining deals signed for 2023 contain “indexation clauses”, meaning that salaries are automatically tied to inflation, up from a fifth before the pandemic.

In Germany ig Metall, a trade union, has asked for a 7-8% pay rise for nearly 4m workers in the metals and engineering sector (it will probably get about half that). In Britain rail workers went on strike as they sought a 7% pay rise, though it is unclear whether they will succeed. All this will make wage growth hotter still. Already, a tracker for the g10 group of countries compiled by Goldman Sachs, a bank, is rising almost vertically (see chart). A measure of pay pressure from Alternative Macro Signals is similarly animated. And wage floors are rising, too.

The Netherlands is bringing forward a rise in the minimum wage; earlier this month Germany passed a bill increasing its minimum by one-fifth. On June 15th Australia’s industrial-relations agency raised the wage floor by 5.2%, more than double last year’s increase. Faster wage growth in part reflects public’s higher expectations for future inflation—the second reason to worry that inflation might prove sticky. In America expectations for average price increases in the near term are rising fast.

The average Canadian says they are braced for inflation of 7% over the next year, the highest of any rich country. Even in Japan, the land where prices only rarely change, beliefs are shifting. A year ago a survey by the central bank found that just 8% of people believed that prices would go up “significantly” over the next year (consumer prices, indeed, rose by only 2.5% in the year to April). Now, however, 20% of Japanese people reckon that will happen.

The third factor relates to companies’ expectations. Retailers’ inflation expectations are at an all-time high in a third of eu countries. A survey by the Bank of England suggests that clothing prices for Britain’s autumn and winter collections will be 7-10% higher than a year ago. The Dallas Fed does find tentative evidence that customers are less willing to tolerate price increases than before; a respondent in the rental and leasing business complained that “it is getting tougher to pass on the 20-30% price increases we have received from manufacturers.” But that merely points to a lower level of high inflation.

The big hope for lower inflation relates to the price of goods. Fast increases in the prices of cars, fridges and the like, linked in part to supply-chain snarls, drove the initial inflationary surge last year. Now there is some evidence of a reversal. The cost of shipping something from Shanghai to Los Angeles has fallen by a quarter since early March. In recent months many retailers spent big on inventories in order to ensure their shelves stayed full. Many are now cutting prices to shift stock.

In America car production is finally picking up, which could unwind some of the outrageous price increases for used vehicles seen last year. Falling goods prices could, in theory, help douse the inflationary flames in the rich world, easing the cost-of-living crisis, giving central banks breathing room and buoying financial markets. But, with enough indicators of future prices pointing the other way, the odds of that happening have lengthened. Don’t be surprised if inflation roars for a while yet.

Source: Why inflation looks likely to stay above the pre-pandemic norm | The Economist

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How Media Companies Can Use AI To Keep And Win Subscribers

Think of your favorite movie as a kid, say in the first 10 years of your life. Now think of your favorite movie from the past decade. Do you have one? Do you have 100?

In a world with basically infinite content, choice is one of our greatest joys—and frustrations. With each passing year, consumers seem to grow more fickle and demanding, regularly moving to the platforms and publications that offer not only the best catalog but also the best customer service, content experience, user interface, and bang for the buck. And even these features may not be enough, as the recent upheaval among the major streamers has shown.

Holding on to viewers, readers, and listeners has become more important than ever. Yet most consumers can only maintain so many subscription services at once. The goal for media companies needs to be to sustain their interest, and with as much share of the consumer’s wallet as possible.

As such, churn is now the most prominent enemy of the media and entertainment industry business model. Consumers can be mercurial, sensitive to price and changes in content catalogs. Just as adding a service has rarely been easier, so is dropping one, which consumers have shown themselves more than willing to do when a channel is no longer serving their needs.

With these challenges front and center, leading media and entertainment companies are increasingly turning to data analytics and personalized content recommendations to improve customer experience and retention. In the dog-eat-dog digital world, it’s no longer the loudest bark that gets the most attention. It’s about pairing the right breed to the sensibilities of a specific person, and having the best stable of information and offerings to make that match and keep it going.

As subscriptions have risen, so has churn

A good example of the challenge of churn can be seen with streaming video. Deloitte performed a series of surveys in 2020 to gauge how consumers were changing their media consumption habits amidst the pandemic.

In January 2020, the average consumer in the United States subscribed to three paid streaming services; by October 2020, the number of subscriptions had risen to five. Overall, a positive development for media, but with the increase in subscriptions came a commensurate increase in churn.

In January 2020, Deloitte found that only 20% of people who had subscribed to a paid streaming service had cut at least one of those services in the past 12 months. By October, that number more than doubled, with 46% of consumers canceling a streaming service in the preceding six months. And at that time, 34% of consumers said that they’d both added and canceled a streaming service since the pandemic started.

Why did viewers churn? Deloitte noted that 62% of people in 2020 who had signed up for a service and then canceled it had done so because they signed up to watch a specific show, then canceled the service when they’d finished watching it. Price, as always, was also a big factor. In October 2020, 31% of people who canceled a service did so because it was too expensive. Another 28% canceled because a free trial or discount period ended. About 21% cut the service because of a lack of content they found interesting.

No matter how focused on addressing churn a company may be, what can they do when the whims of the consumer are so sensitive and fluctuate wildly?

Companies need to find ways to anticipate what their audiences want at least as well as the audience does—and certainly better than their competition. Two of the best defenses against churn are having an organized data platform, then using that data to personalize content recommendations and customer experience.

Data maturity is the first step to mitigating churn

Data maturity is the ability to have accurate and reliable data that can be utilized through cloud platforms, with advanced analytics informing every decision. It is one of the most important steps for media and entertainment companies to take in the effort to mitigate churn

In our experience working with companies as varied as Spotify, The New York Times, Major League Baseball, and Hearst, the first step to achieving data maturity is building a company culture where data is prioritized within the strategic business framework, and where funding is allocated to technology and human resources to build a mature data ecosystem.

Data maturity should not be a bolt-on to existing practices, but needs to become central to the company’s strategic business goals. Companies that have achieved data maturity tend to have specific teams or centers of excellence that manage goals, strategy, and tactics of the organization’s data framework.

In a 2020 survey by EY Global Media & Entertainment, 62% of media and entertainment executives said they saw the increasing availability of data as an opportunity. About 56% prioritized first-party data, versus only 13% who prioritized third-party data. When asked about their top three data priorities, 44% said that the consolidation of customer data was a top concern. About 40% said developing proprietary data sources was a priority, while 39% prioritized improving the relevance of data.

Consolidating data out of data silos to a unified data platform is the biggest challenge that most companies will face when building a roadmap to data maturity.

A report by Deloitte in partnership with the Google News Initiative on how news and media companies can achieve digital transformation through data outlined some of the technologies that companies can adopt to achieve data maturity. Two elements are required. First, media and entertainment companies need to be able to collect and store data that they are gathering from their planet-sized audiences and users with the tools listed below.

  • Data management platform (DMP) helps to manage first-party data segments and integrate third-party data and push data to other systems.
  • Data lake or warehouse, a central repository of data from multiple sources.
  • Cloud storage for reliability, security, and scalability.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) the backbone of customer data that records and tracks user interactions with registered subscribers.
  • Customer data platform (CDP) to record and track customer data across platforms and devices.

Second, companies need to make sense of all that data and derive actionable insights from it.

  • Data analytics and reporting tools that can collect, organize, and analyze data from multiple sources.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. Derive even more insights through AI/ML-enabled capabilities such as computer vision, speech and object recognition, and text translation.
  • Propensity modeling helps build a better understanding of customer preferences, fulfilling the key elements of personalization to prevent churn.

Below we describe some of the unique data sources available to media and entertainment companies and how it can be applied to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Media and entertainment have unique data sources

Media and entertainment companies can improve personalization by tapping two unique sets of data particular to the industry: media content and audience behavior.

Media content includes easily identifiable metadata such as the title, headline, genre, topic, or format of a piece of content. But media data can also include context of the actual content itself.

For instance, AI tools like object recognition and computer vision can detect items within a movie and then add the description of the object to the searchable metadata of the content. If a television show contains a border collie, the AI can recognize the good dog and surface the show in a search for “shows with dogs.” Or with speech recognition and translation, AI can build a data set of the dialogue within a movie and make certain keywords part of the search for that show.

Behavioral data of the audience can be used in a variety of ways. Data can come from many different sources including a person’s location, device, browsing and scrolling, user profile, engagement, billing preferences, purchase and support history. Companies can help personalize experiences with this data by understanding how people interact with content and how best to engage with them, such as what times of the week are best for push notifications or when a person might be most amenable to a content recommendation.

Using artificial intelligence to personalize user experience

If you’ve ever wondered how your favorite streaming service seems to so uncannily know what you want to watch—even better than you might—the answer is probably some clever AI. Personalization is the practice of combining the new, massive datasets outlined above with machine learning and artificial intelligence to create experiences tailored to the specific needs and behaviors of an individual person.

Personalization is often associated with content recommendations. For example, about 70% of what is viewed on YouTube comes from a personalized recommendation. Certain streaming services are known to have some of the best content recommendation systems in the business. The goal with the personalization of content is to surface a new show, video, movie, podcast, song, band, album, article, or blog to the person at precisely the right moment.

Personalization is also an important element in search. Consider that with the right data inputs, two users searching for the same keywords could get vastly different results attuned to their consumption preferences. In both cases, content better suited to a person’s interest will keep them from looking around at other platforms or publications, helping to reduce churn.

The same is true for more traditional outlets, as well. Take a recent example from the (digital) pages of Newsweek. The publication’s chief technology officer, Michael Lukac, recently noted that “Google Cloud Recommendations AI has not only improved our click-through rate by 50% to 75% and subscription conversion rate by 10% but also allowed us to increase total revenue per visit by 10%.”

If you’re looking for more information about why personalization matters and how to bring it to your own services and experiences, discover more in our new ebook, Personalizing Media for Global Audiences.

Lluis Canet, Solutions Lead for Media Analytics and AI, Google Cloud

Source: Churn It Down: How Media Companies Can Use AI To Keep And Win Subscribers

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Consumers are Shifting Their Spending From Goods To Services

The Covid-19 pandemic has strained global supply chains, causing freight backlogs that have driven up costs. Now some companies are looking for longer-term solutions to prepare for future supply-chain crises, even if those strategies come at a high cost. Americans responded to the pandemic with a dramatic shift in spending to goods from services. That now appears to be reversing and should gather steam as the Omicron wave of Covid-19 ebbs, economists say.

Consumers shopped more online in the pandemic, and changed what they bought. Unable to eat out or travel, and with both school and work going remote, they splurged more on things for the home such as furniture and computers. Several rounds of federal stimulus amplified that spending spree.

Goods—including nondurable goods such as food and clothing, and durable goods such as cars and appliances—averaged 31% of total personal consumption in the two years before the pandemic. That soared to 36% in March and April 2021, shortly before Covid-19 vaccines became widely available. The share has been dropping since, to 34% in December. Consumer spending on goods fell that month for the second month in a row, according to the Commerce Department, while spending on services increased slightly.

James Knightley, chief international economist at ING, said consumers are starting this year with “a combination of general fatigue of buying physical things and Omicron reducing the ability to spend on services.”

After bingeing on goods earlier in the pandemic, consumers are taking a breather. What’s more, spending on goods has been hit by supply-chain constraints, rising prices and dwindling government stimulus funds. As warmer springtime weather comes to much of the country and falling infection rates help people feel more comfortable socializing in-person, pent-up demand for services such as travel and dining should recover, said Robert Frick, corporate economist with Navy Federal Credit Union.

“If the Omicron wave continues to decline and there’s no follow-up strain, I do think we’re going to see a shift to a more normal breakdown in spending on goods and services,” he said.

That could be important for the inflation outlook. Strong demand for goods coupled with disruptions to their supply have fueled inflation, sending it to a 39-year high of 7% in December. Prices for goods such as furniture and appliances rose 10.7% in December from a year earlier, while services inflation for costs such as rent and airline fares was up a more moderate 3.7%. If consumer spending rotates back to services from goods, some of that upward pressure on goods prices should dissipate.

Economists caution that 2022 is off to a weak start. The Omicron wave hurt consumer spending and job growth in December, trends that likely continued through January as cases of the Covid-19 variant peaked. Real-time data show that restaurant bookings and travel remained depressed in January, suggesting the shift toward services away from goods may have paused in January.

But looking ahead, a strong labor market and rising wages mean many U.S. consumers are starting 2022 with robust income prospects that are likely to help fuel the services recovery this year. “All the indications are that it will be a big year for travel,” said Visa Inc. Chief Financial Officer Vasant Prabhu. “We see the shift to services continuing to gather momentum.”

 Travel, restaurants and entertainment services all stand to benefit, he said, adding the economic impact of Omicron is more short-lived than earlier Covid-19 waves as people learn to live with the variant.

Airlines were hit hard by the Omicron variant, with travelers scrapping holiday trips and staff absenteeism prompting flight cancellations over the holidays. Still, executives are optimistic about a speedy recovery.

“The GDP growth we’re seeing now, the excess customer savings, customer spend in other categories and even things like New York City rents snapping back pretty quickly, all seem to indicate real strength for the customer and pent-up demand that wasn’t there in the past,” David Fintzen, an executive at New York-based JetBlue Airways Corp. said during an earnings call last week.

One potential roadblock to higher spending in 2022 is inflation, as shortages of supplies and workers are pushing up prices and wages at levels that may become unaffordable to some households. Some consumers are forgoing purchases because of sticker shock. “We will not buy a used car at the prices we’re seeing now, it’s ridiculous,” said Cory Randall, controller at a cattle company in Amarillo, Texas, who had been considering a secondhand compact car purchase as his son recently turned 16.

Mr. Randall isn’t alone. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s most recent Survey of Consumer Expectations found the share of households that made a large purchase over the past four months decreased to 58% in December from 63% in August. Households reported that they were less likely to make a large purchase over the next four months—like on a vacation, home repairs, home appliances, furniture and vehicles—than in the prior survey.

Source: https://www.wsj.com

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Gas Prices: How Your Driving Behavior Impacts Costs at The Pump

On Thursday, the national average retail price for regular gasoline surged to another record high, hitting $4.41 per gallon.

While you may not be able to control the prices at the pump, you can control how you drive. Certain driving behaviors can actually help consumers save significantly when it comes to filling up at the pump, Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, told FOX Business.

It’s the “easiest” thing to do when trying to combat those rising fuel costs, he said. Keep your tachometer as low as possible. De Haan says drivers should keep feet light on the gas when accelerating. The heavier you are on the accelerator, the more fuel your engine is using, he said.

The tachometer should be used as a gauge for drivers to see how much fuel they’re actually using, according to De Haan.  The tachometer measures the working speed of an engine in RPMs, or rotations per minute. It is located next to the speedometer on a vehicle’s instrument panel.

“The higher the needle goes, the more gas your engine is guzzling,” De Haan said.  The objective is to keep your tachometer as low as possible and not to “bash on the pedal,” De Haan added.

Cars crowding the turn lane into Murphy Express at Beal Parkway and Racetrack Road as gas lines started popping up at numerous gas stations around the Fort Walton Beach area in Florida. (USA Today Network via Reuters Connect / Reuters Photos)

It’s also important to keep the speed of the car under control because speeding increases fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, gas mileage will decrease “rapidly at speeds above 50 MPH.”

The best way to control speed is using cruise control. Although cruise control may not be useful in some congested parts of the country, like New York or Chicago. However, the feature can be “more effective and efficient than a human trying to maintain the same pressure on the gas pedal,” according to De Haan.

Maintenance: Make sure your check engine light is not on If you have a check engine light on, especially if it’s flashing, it should be checked as soon as possible. A lot of sensors on cars are critically important, but the check engine light is the “most critical,” according to De Haan. When the light is flashing, “it’s basically telling you that it’s in distress,” De Haan said.

The car essentially goes into “limp mode,” which means “the car has lost some critical sensor or something is critically wrong and … is basically using up to twice as much fuel to protect itself from catastrophic damage,” De Haan added. Another thing motorists should be checking is tire pressure.

A man checks gas prices at a gas station in Buffalo Grove, Ill., March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh / AP Newsroom). When a tire loses air pressure, there is more friction between the tire and the road. That increase in friction will lower a car’s fuel efficiency, according to De Haan.

Removing access weight

Leaving heavy objects in the back seat or truck of a car can also hurt fuel efficiency. In fact, every hundred pounds will reduce fuel efficiency by one to two miles per gallon, according to De Haan.

Racks that sit on the roof of cars, typically in the summer or winter months, are also working against drivers. Those racks will “absolutely destroy the aerodynamics of your vehicle” and drive down fuel efficiency by 25 to 35%, De Haan said.

“They’re just like a mattress on your roof,” he said. “Your car is working harder to offset that object on the top of your car.”

Keep an eye on your AC this summer

When the air conditioning is running in your car, “you’re generally putting more of a load on your engine. You’ll burn a lot less fuel if you crack a window instead, according to GasBuddy. 

MYTH: It takes more gas to restart your car

That may have been true 30 years ago, “but that’s why vehicles have adopted that start stop technology,” according to De Haan. In fact, if you’re going to be sitting in traffic more than 10 seconds, it makes more sense to shut the vehicle off.

Source: Gas prices: How your driving behavior impacts costs at the pump | Fox Business

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