Street smarts: Hypermiling

Now, being a responsible driver not only means maintaining a slight feeling of moral superiority, but may just save you some money at the pump.  Through a set of techniques called “hypermiling”, you can conserve fuel by altering how you hit the road.  Some reports estimate taking it slow and steady could improve fuel economy up to 35%.  Before you start changing your habits, begin by calculating your gas mileage after each trip to the station by using your odometer.  Also, take note of your tendencies towards how you treat other motorists on the road, how quickly you take off from a stop, how often you brake, pass, and stop during your commute.

Here are a couple of tips to keep more gas in the tank:

-Avoid hard depression of the gas pedal as it pushes more fuel into the engine, causing it to run faster.

-When driving in town, accelerate more slowly from stops and decelerate more gradually when coming to a red light.  Lift your foot off of the gas pedal as soon as possible when approaching a yellow light or stop sign, and coast to reduce speed before using the brakes. This minimizes the amount of time spent getting no miles to the gallon while sitting at a red.

-Using cruise control on the freeway helps avoid driver-controlled acceleration changes that lead to energy loss.

Stay in motion during traffic congestion as much as possible instead of hitting the brakes creating “stop-and-go” waves of idling vehicles.

-Keep your car in good shape by scheduling regular maintenance tune-ups and making sure tires are properly inflated. Whenever possible, reduce the weight of your auto by removing any junk you may be hauling around.  Help avoid drag by taking down any cargo racks or other devices that make your car less aerodynamic, and keep windows closed.  Try not to run any superfluous electrical devices or the air conditioner.

-Do not use 4-wheel drive unless needed as it makes the engine work harder.

-Try to buy high BTU content gas when possible.  Oxygenated fuels and reformulated gas can cause decreases in fuel economy.

-Plan your trips. Can you combine outings?  What is the most efficient route to accomplish your errands around town?

-Don’t get discouraged!  This type of driving takes a lot of attention and patience, but will soon become automatic and save you enough dough to be worth the extra effort!

Now you are ready to conserve energy, money, and maybe even a little aggravation.  How do you hypermile?

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