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Hypermiling Tips to Save Gas, Money and the Planet

Hypermiling Tips to Save Gas, Money and the Planet

If the pain at the pump has gotten more than you can bear, there is something you can do. Hypermiling–the act of changing your driving habits in order to get the best possible gas mileage–has risen in popularity right along with the price of gas.

Hypermilers are employing a variety of techniques to maximize fuel efficiency: Putting air in the tires up to or even beyond the recommended pressure, switching off the air conditioning and even traveling at the low-low speed of 50 mph on the highway. Some experienced hypermilers who drive hybrid cars, which generally get up to 50 mpg, have reported mpgs of up to 90. This is serious business, and if you want to learn how to hypermile in whatever car you drive, read on.

1. Check your etiquette. Tailgaters are not only dangerous and rude, but by not leaving enough room between themselves and the car ahead of them they’re using more gas by not giving themselves enough time to coast into a stop.

2. Slow down, make the gas and the moment last. While some might argue that driving 50 on the freeway is too slow, there’s no denying that it’ll get you the best gas mileage. According to www.fueleconomy.gov, gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional 30 cents per gallon for gas. Think about that!

3. Don’t be a pedal pusher. Only use the brake and gas pedals when absolutely necessary, which means keeping an eye on the road ahead and planning your drives accordingly. Don’t accelerate toward a stop sign. Coming to a complete stop nets zero mpg, so setting a pace in a traffic crunch and timing green lights can go a long way toward helping gas mileage.

4. Keep the pressure on. You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires properly inflated. Learn more here.

5. Put your car on a diet. Any added weight to the car is going to decrease the gas mileage you’re getting. Every 100 pounds off the vehicle can increase fuel economy by 1 percent to 2 percent, according to fueleconomy.gov. Roof racks that are not in use should come off, and clean out your trunk on a regular basis.

6. If you can’t stand the heat, turn on the AC. But only if absolutely necessary, because air conditioning–while lovely on a summer’s day–is going to cost you at the pump.

While you can use all these tips and tricks and just assume you’re getting better gas mileage, you’ll probably have more success because you’ll be able to tell if it’s working if you monitor your gas mileage.

There are two ways to do this:

1. A digital gauge. If you’ve got a hybrid, then you’ve already got one of these and you’re all set. If you don’t, you can buy one for under $200 that will work on most cars and will monitor fuel consumption, cost-per-mile, and more.

2. The old-fashioned method. (Dust off your math skills for this.) When you fill your tank, make a note of your odometer reading. When it’s empty, write down the new number. Once you know how many miles you went, divide that by how many gallons of gas you used. For example, if you drove 300 miles on 10 gallons of gas, you got 30 mpg. Easy!

For a slightly different take on the subject, check out the blog Hypermiling Myself to Divorce Court.

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Jana Ballinger

Jana Ballinger has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and copy editor for daily newspapers. She lives in a vintage house in Northern California with her husband and an orange cat.

5 comments

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9:47AM PDT on Jul 16, 2014

Good tips!

12:52AM PDT on May 21, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:17AM PST on Nov 7, 2008

I always knew that driving a tad slower was good for your fuel consumption, but I hadn't realized just how much (tip #2). I also got a giggle out of figuring out the fuel mileage the old fashioned way...kinda hard to justify buying a gadget that can do what I can with a pencil and paper :-). I've been reading a lot of things on how to save cash and the planet and I think your readers might enjoy the info provided at http://www.destroydebt.com/articles/76-ways-to-save-money-while-saving-the-environment.html

Thank you for the simple yet useful info in this article!

4:46PM PDT on Jul 21, 2008

Most of the tips for energy-efficient driving also double as just good driving in general. Watching ahead and being aware of your surroundings can save you gas but could also save your life.

6:13AM PDT on Jul 16, 2008

I use many of the techniques and they work but,it can be illegal to go below the speed limit. I read that police often catch drunks this way. Be aware of the traffic laws before you decide to go 50 mph on the highway.

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