Have you ever turned off the car air conditioner when you noticed you were running low on gas, hoping the to save enough fuel to get to the next service station? It’s a logical practice that can work – provided, that is, that you don’t open the windows instead, while racing down the freeway at 65 miles per hour.

At a time, when many of us will be hitting the road for the beach, the mountains or just some community cookouts we thought it would be worth reviewing some basic skills for surviving the summertime heat without breaking the bank.

AC or Open Window?

The air conditioner/open car window is becoming a real dilemma this month with record high temperatures in many parts of the country making it virtually impossible to sit in a car for long without some kind of air circulation. But this primer, which puts some conventional wisdom to the test, notes that at speeds above 50 miles per hour, “you’re better off closing the windows” and putting on the AC. Although car air conditioning can increase fuel costs significantly, using the “vent” settings on climate control can help you conserve fuel even as you drive in cool comfort.

Drive further for cheap gas or pay more for convenience?

While driving the extra miles to the local service station with the slightly cheaper gasoline prices is usually a penny-wise and pound-foolish strategy (not to mention a waste of time), drivers embarking on lengthy road trips can achieve significant savings on gasoline by doing some research on costs in different states, and planning stops accordingly. Gasoline costs can vary significantly from state to state, because of different state tax rates.

Consider this: “If you’re already planning to cross the George Washington Bridge, then you should plan to buy gas on the New Jersey side, where a full tank will cost about $4 less, which will help you pay the $8 toll for the bridge.”

Prepare for power outages

It seems like just yesterday that much of the country was blanketed in snow and we were offering tips on Surviving a Blizzard in Relative Comfort.

Fast forward five months and power outages are on the rise again. Of course the best practice for consumers is to do their part to prevent blackouts in the first place by limiting power use during peak demand times. Bit it’s also useful to remember that when the power goes down, you may need more than just a flashlight. This consumer site reminds us that power outages also affect refrigeration and in some cases, water supply as well. Simple moves like keeping a cooler and some bottled water on hand will help ensure you’re well-nourished and hydrated, even as you dine by candlelight and flashlight.

Keeping the heat out

Think about it: There are two main strategies for keeping your home cool. You can bring cool air in, with an air conditioner. Or you can keep it out in the first place. Too often we opt for the first strategy when the more economic approach is using a combination of the two. This Guide to Green Living reminds us to close the drapes on windows facing the sun as a low-tech step to simply block the heat and limit the need for cooling. So simple and so often overlooked.

Indeed, so many power saving tips are simple common sense. But if you incorporate them on a regular basis the savings can add up. Happy summer!