Remember the days when a gallon of gasoline was only $2.12?

That was the national average price the last time Snips did a story about how HVAC contractors were handling the “high” cost of fuel.

In 2005, Snips interviewed contractors across the country on the effect then-record gasoline prices were having on their businesses (See “Gas pains,” July 2005).

Since then, the prices have climbed above $4 in much of the country, and some predict $5, $6 and even $7 or more in the next year or two. That’s why we thought it would be a good time to revisit the issue.

Current prices are far beyond what many people ever thought they’d see. It should be mentioned many so-called experts thought prices would rise much more slowly than they have this year. Many didn’t think U.S. motorists would see $4 a gallon during 2008.

Current gas prices have caused Americans to actually drive less for the first time in a generation and companies from grocery stores to sheet metal shops are re-evaluating the way they do business. At a time when the nation’s economy was already shaky, it’s led to cutbacks in spending, as families and firms look to save cash.

Since we’re heading into a presidential election this November, I expect gas prices to stay near the forefront in the minds of the public and the candidates. All candidates have ideas for reducing the pain at the pump for America, but few expect anything to change in the short term.

Tips

With that in mind, I’d like to know what you’re doing to save on fuel expenses at your company. Are you replacing SUVs with compact cars for drives to the jobsite or are you restricting the use of company vehicles? Are you telling technicians not to speed or drive aggressively - and installing monitoring devices to see if they listened?

Tell me. I’d love to print some fuel-saving ideas from Snips readers. Write me at Snips magazine, BNP Media, 2401 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 700, Troy, MI 48084, or e-mail to mcconnellm@bnpmedia.com. Include your name and title, as well as your company’s name and location, and a way to contact you. We may print the letters on this page.

On a different subject, I wanted to let you know that we’ve redesigned www.snipsmag.com. If you haven’t visited lately, take a look. We’ve added a box of rotating pictures, installed more prominent videos, new blogs, listings of the most popular stories on the Web site and online-only articles.

After redesigning Snips’ Web site a little over a year ago, you may wonder why we’re changing it again. As I’ve written before, I don’t like to make major changes to the print version of Snips unnecessarily or too quickly. I believe they can disorient readers, at least temporarily.

But the Internet is different. The online world, where more magazines and newspapers are focused today, changes much more quickly than the traditional print-based media. Web sites have to be updated regularly to keep visitors and ensure they stay at the top of search engines like Google. That’s why we started daily news updates last year, offer a “digital edition” and recently added online polls.

So keep visiting our Web site. We’re hoping to make sure it stays an interesting place to be.

Results of snipsmag.com June poll

Gas has already reached - and passed - $4 a gallon in much of the country, far sooner than anybody expected. Now the pundits and some polls are saying $5 or higher before Labor Day

is not impossible. How high do you think gas

prices will go this summer?

• $5 is probably the limit. 29%

•  $6 is not unreasonable to expect. 31%

 • I think $4 was the peak. It has nowhere to go but down. 19%

•  Prices are too crazy. I don’t know. 21%