When greening your life, considering transportation doesn’t require much investment beyond planning. You can catch the bus downtown, take your bike to the bank, or walk to a friend’s house. There are times and places, however, where you really just need to be in your car. It’s hard to bring your cat to the vet on a bike or your kids to school, along with their science experiments, on the bus. So if you’re in a vehicle, make the most of it and start hypermiling!
What Is That Exactly?
The act of hypermiling is driving your vehicle in a way that will exceed the official EPA ratings for miles per gallon (MPG). It’s basically energy-efficient driving. Wayne Gerdes, who coined the phrase, started the habit of squeezing every ounce of energy out of the gas he purchases. Gerdes gets 40 to 70 MPG with his Ford Ranger pickup truck, about double the EPA rating. To share what he learned, Gerdes started the website CleanMPG.
Hypermiling helps you go further on the same amount of gasoline. You’ll save money and consume less petroleum/oil, a non-renewable resource. Drilling for oil is a necessity but is never great for the environment.
Here are some tips on how to increase gas mileage and start conserving while you drive:
Lose Some Weight, Don’t Be Late
Remove excess weight from your trunk and storage spaces. It’s great to have some emergency supplies and a change of clothes for the kids in your vehicle but you don’t always need your whole (heavy!) toolbox or your golf clubs. The less your vehicle has to carry, the better gas mileage it will get. Also, being on time will surprisingly increase your gas mileage too. If you’re not in a hurry, you’ll be more relaxed and less prone to change lanes quickly, pass other vehicles, or peel out of a stoplight.
Pay Attention to Peripherals
Your air conditioner and heater at full blast use a lot of energy. Certainly get your car to comfortable temperature, but then be sure to turn down the fans. Also, turn off your defrosters (front, rear, and mirror) and seat warmers when not in use. All these car accessories make a more enjoyable ride but aim to use them less than you do now to save on gas.
Be a Responsible Car Owner
A car in good condition uses less gas than a vehicle that wasn’t taken care of. Check your tire pressure, as tires with less than optimal air will cause you to decrease miles per gallon. Additionally, keep your car well-maintained and serviced regularly, especially oil changes and tire rotations.
The Actual Driving
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re in the driver seat is that you should start and stop as slowly as possible. Accelerating to get up to the speed limit is when your car uses the most gas. Do it as evenly and slowly as traffic will allow. Also, anticipate when you’re going to stop and start slowing down farther away than you normally need to by taking your foot off the gas. Here are some additional tips to bring your gas mileage up:
- Pull forward into parking spots so you just pull out when leaving, instead of backing up and then forward.
- Take your foot off the gas on the downhill.
- Pay attention to any eco-driving meters your car may have.
- Avoid idling unless necessary.
- Keeping track of your gas mileage per fill-up will help you gauge how well you’re hypermiling and will encourage you to keep the habit. I use Fuelly to track mine.
- Keep the windows up when your air conditioner is on. When driving under 45 miles per hour, roll the windows down instead of using the AC.
- Do multiple errands in the same trip versus many outings.
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.
Why It’s Good
Making your daily commute as green as possible, even when it involves a normal car, does a lot of good with no investment of time or money for you. It only takes a bit effort and concentration. Reducing the world's dependence on oil (no matter the country!) will benefit wildlife, air quality, water quality, and the over all ecology of ecosystems.