Although boating is still one of the most affordable ways of enjoying some family time in the sun, no one wants to spend more than they have to at the fuel dock. While today’s boats and engines are more fuel efficient than ever, there are still a few things you can do to cut your fuel bill and save a few bucks. Here are 10 fuel saving tips to help you out this season.

1. Slow Down

The best way to reduce fuel consumption is to simply slow down a little. Engines use the most fuel at wide-open throttle, so simply pulling back from full throttle to two-thirds can cut your fuel bill in half. Over the course of a full season, that’s a lot of money. Besides, what’s your rush?

2. Lighten Up

All boats seem to collect stuff over the years. All that junk doesn’t just deprive you of storage space, it adds weight to the boat and causes it to eat more fuel. Clean out all storage lockers at the beginning of each season, and get rid of stuff you don’t actually need.

Removing items you don't actually need will reduce the boat's weight and improve fuel economy.

Removing items you don’t actually need will reduce the boat’s weight and improve fuel economy.

3. Fuel For The Day

Unless you have a clear reason to do so, there’s no sense running your boat with a full fuel tank all of the time. Full fuel, water and waste tanks add a lot of weight to the boat, and that means higher fuel consumption. Top up with only as much fuel as you need for the day, plus a bit of reserve, and over the course of a year you’ll burn much less of it.

4. Distribute The Load

Balancing the weight inside your boat is another great way to improve fuel economy. Always try to distribute passengers and gear so that your boat can easily get up on plane, and doesn’t just plow through the water.

5. Learn To Use The Trim Switch

Once the boat is running up on plane, gradually adjust your engine’s trim switch to get most of the boat up and out of the water to reduce drag and improve fuel economy. You’ll know when you get it right, because you’ll feel the boat ride smoothly without bouncing or porpoising.

Trimming the engine to reduce drag can also reduce fuel burn.

Trimming the engine to reduce drag can also reduce fuel burn.

6. Maintain The Engine

Keeping your motor properly tuned is another top way of reducing your fuel bill. Neglecting to change the spark plugs each year may save you a couple of bucks in the short term, but in the long run, it’ll cost you plenty more in poor fuel economy. And, a lack of maintenance will shorten engine life.

7. Clean the Bottom

Boats left in the water inevitably attract things like algae, zebra mussels, barnacles and other life forms that can increased drag and reduce fuel efficiency. Cleaning the hull now and then removes growths and keeps the boat running as it was meant to.

8. Upgrade The Engine

If you have an older motor, you might consider replacing it with a newer one. Modern engines are incredibly fuel-efficient compared to even those of 10 years ago. You’ll notice the difference immediately.

9. Prop For Economy

Propellers come in a range of sizes and styles, each designed to do a different job. Replacing the stock “all-round” prop with one specifically designed to give better fuel economy can make a big difference in your annual fuel bill. Talk with your dealer to see what’s best for your particular boat and engine. In general, props that diminish slip, like those with four blades or cupped blades, tend to require less fuel.

Collapsing the Bimini top when running reduced drag and improved fuel economy.

Collapsing the Bimini top when running reduced drag and improved fuel economy.

10. Put The Top Down

Nothing beats the protection of a Bimini top on a hot summer’s day. But that big shady top acts like a parachute when you’re under way, and can really kill fuel economy. Taking the top down when you’re driving long distances makes sense – the breeze at speed will keep you cool, while eliminating the top’s extra drag will soften your fuel bill. You can put the top back up when you arrive at your destination.

Saving a few bucks here and there really adds up. By thinking about what you can do to reduce your boat’s fuel consumption, you can probably save enough each year for a new fish finder or GPS, or even a trip south in the winter months. Now there’s incentive!

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