I saw a news bit last week on hypermiling and got to thinking. Is it possible to save money/gas by using these techniques? A lot of people that are hypermiling are driving hybrid vehicles, but a lot are driving old fashioned gas guzzlers, too. Hypermilers are drivers that exceed EPA estimated fuel efficiency on their vehicles by modifying their driving habits. There are hypermiler forums and groups all over the U.S.
Here are the basics, which appear to be no-brainers after you think about it.
Maintain your vehicle. Tire pressure, balance and wheel alignment are key factors. Keep the tires inflated to the maximum recommended air pressure as noted on the tire. Under-inflated tires cause lower fuel efficiency. Keep your engine tuned. (I am already doing this.)
Empty out the junk in your car. All of that extra weight (dog food, case of water, laundry detergent, bag of books for donation, etc.) makes your vehicle heavier and heavier means lower gas mileage. (Another good reason to go on a diet. I confess, the back of the SUV has a bunch of junk that needs to be removed.)
Use the cruise control when possible. Cruising maintains your speed which means better mileage. (Kind of hard to do in rush hour traffic, but on long trips, I use the cruise all the time.)
Braking – Not so much. Anticipate what is happening in front of you, slow down on the way to that red light without braking until necessary. Gentle acceleration and deceleration — avoid unnecessary acceleration. (Has this ever happened to you? You are cruising along and someone gets right on your bumper, they swing around and pass you zooming toward a red light. You are maintaining a solid speed, see the red light ahead, lift off the accelerator, coast up to the light just as it changes to green and pass by the doofus that just wasted money by zooming and then by idling at the light?)
NASCAR-style drafting (also known as tailgating). This is one of the hypermiler’s habits that I do not agree with. Its just too damned dangerous and I do not want to cause road rage. Period. I prefer the concept that people who do not leave a lot of space between their car and the car/truck/vehicle in front of them use their brakes more often. Braking causes friction and heat and slows down your car. (Not going to try the drafting idea. Nope.)
Avoid sitting in traffic. You are wasting gasoline by sitting and idling. And, if there were no traffic jams, we’d be tooling along in our cars smoothly which would result in less starts and stops which means better gas mileage. You are getting 0 (zero) miles per gallon when you are sitting at a light. (Easier said than done, but I’m going to make a real effort to do this whenever possible.)
Know your gas mileage. How can you tell if you’re actually saving gas and getting better mileage if you don’t know what your old habits cost you, and what your new habits can bring you. There are a bunch of gas mileage calculators on the net or you can do it the old fashioned way:
I am an expert at nothing, but I am determined to try and save some money on gas consumption. I drive approximately 50 miles round trip each day to work, and can double that on a Saturday with yard sales.