What Would Happen if Each of us Decreased Demand for Gas by 5%?

On many occasions on this site I’ve stated that just slightly decreasing the amount of gasoline you use will add up over time and really make a difference. While it certainly is pretty cliche, it’s definitely nothing but the truth.

Let me explain:

On average, Americans consume about 386 million gallons of gasoline each day. Over the course of a year, that adds up to just under 141 billion gallons of gas.

If people were able to reduce their fuel consumption by just 5% – whether it was by simply not driving, purchasing a more fuel efficient vehicle, or getting more of their current car’s gas mileage – we would save 7.05 billion gallons of gas each year.

With the current national average price for a gallon of gas sitting at $3.20, this reduction in gasoline usage would equal a total dollar savings of over $22 billion.

In addition to the massive amounts of money we would save, there would also be a significant reduction in the amount of damage we do to the environment.

Each gallon of gasoline that we burn releases roughly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, as I’m sure you’re well aware, is believed to be one of the main contributors to global warming and the “greenhouse effect.”

By reducing fuel consumption by just 5%, we would keep 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.  While I have no idea whether or not this would make a significant dent in global warming, it certainly can’t hurt.

So, if Americans were able to reduce their gasoline usage by only 5%, we would save billions of dollars and help save the environment.  Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!


  1. Forgive me for a stupid question. Since a gallon of gas only weighs about 6.5 pounds, where does the 20 pounds of carbon come from?

  2. You can actually make quite a dent in fuel savings by simply altering the way you drive. I know – everyone says the same rules of thumb time and time again. But if you want definitive PROOF on how much gas those changes can make, then read the article Improve MPG: Factors Affecting Fuel Efficiency and you’ll see its very easy to attain the kinds of fuel savings mentioned above.

  3. Mark – trust me, that’s not a stupid question; I wondered the exact same thing. Check out the below link from FuelEconomy.gov for the answer:


  4. For Mark, the key is that it’s not 20 pounds of carbon, it’s 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. In that 20 pounds, 14.5 pounds is oxygen from the atmosphere that combines in the cylinder with the 5.5 pounds of carbon from the gasoline. The remaining 0.8 pounds of “stuff” in the gasoline is hydrogen.

  5. Mathew, that’s an interesting web site, I’ve been there before. While I was impressed with what the author had done, and it gave me ideas, there were a few mistakes. One example is the formula for engine mass airflow. All of that aside, each point he makes is valid and accurate.

  6. Mark, the key here is that it is 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, NOT 20 pounds of carbon. In that 20 pounds, there are about 14.5 pounds of oxygen that combined with about 5.5 pounds of carbon from the gasoline in the cylinders. The remaining 0.8 pounds from the 6.3 pounds of gasoline in the gallon is hydrogen.

    This analysis is from a very over-simplified picture of gasoline chemistry, analyzing it as pure normal heptane, C7H16. Real gasoline is, of course, spectacularly more chemically complex. Nevertheless, the central concept is accurate.

  7. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m mainly trying to drive less. It takes a lot more planning during the week, but if I can just go to the grocery store once rather than 3 times, that will help a ton right there!

  8. Stupid Article says

    Wow, awesome. Yes. The oil shortage only has to do with gas prices at the pump totally not ignorant of the entire situation at all…

    No one even blink an eye about BOTTLED WATER, or the PLASTIC BAGS walmart hands out. Huge petrolium based products.

    Switching your gas use wont change shit, killing petroleum use outside of fuel will make a bigger change than anything.

    Correct the article, do some research.

  9. Hey, I was wondering if you could do me a favor and try writing those first couple of sentences over. I have no idea what you’re trying to say.

    Also, if you could point out where the article is incorrect, I’d appreciate it.

  10. Don’t forget the gas wasted in lawn equipment. The EPA estimates that 5 to 10% of all air pollution comes directly from lawn equipment. Switch to push mowers or electric mowers. We use electric equipment powered through renewable energy in our lawn care business & it works just fine!

  11. the carbon dioxide doesn’t come from just the the gasoline, but rather the gas and the oxygen the car uses. A car combusts gas and oxygen and ends up with CO2. The carbon (C) comes from the combustion of gas, and the oxygen (O2) comes from the air. Also, a car uses many more pounds of oxygen than gas, so thats where it comes from.

  12. what would happen in no bought gas for a day would that bring down yhe price of gas?


  1. Anonymous says:

    What Would Happen if We Reduced Demand for Gas by 5%?

    If people were able to reduce their fuel consumption by just 5% – whether it was by simply not driving, purchasing a more fuel efficient vehicle, or getting more of their current car

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