The single greatest thing that we have done to save gas is called hypermiling. It’s a relatively new concept, but one that is gaining in popularity. It basically means, increasing the expected miles-per-gallon of your vehicle by altering your driving habits. It can be done in any vehicle, not just hybrids or compact cars. In fact, we drive a minivan and get much better than expected fuel efficiency.
There are many steps to hypermiling, but the basic concept is:
- avoid the brake pedal like the plague. When you hit the brake, you’re basically wasting all the gas you used to get up to that speed. Instead, coast up to stop lights, and stop hitting the gas pedal much sooner.
- put the car in neutral, or better yet, shut it off when you are not accelerating. I always shut the engine off when I am stopped at a stoplight. Why waste gas to sit still? (*please note* shutting your vehicle off when it is still moving is dangerous. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m just warning you that it’s dangerous.)
- Always go the speed limit, and don’t go over 55 mph if you can avoid it. Where I live, the speed limit is 70 on the highway, and I still go 57 (that is about where my vehicle starts rapidly losing mpgs). Yes, I am the slowest person on the highway. No, I’m not holding up traffic. I stay in the right lane, and everybody comfortably passes me. I allow myself a few extra minutes to get places, but it takes all the stress and road rage away from being in a rush all the time.
- When you are accelerating, don’t floor it. I try not to accelerate using more than 2,000 rpms (that’s that other dial next to the speedometer that nobody looks at). One tip I’ve heard: Imagine there’s an egg under the gas pedal and you’re trying not to break it.
- Keep your tires inflated to their maximum safe psi. This increases your fuel economy. But don’t overinflate or you’ll end up with a blowout.
There are a ton more tips on hypermiling, and it can often double your vehicle’s expected mpgs. You can read more about it at www.hypermiling.com. Here is also a video that is very informative:
This is a great way to save money. The estimated MPGs for my 2008 Nissan Quest is 16 city / 24 highway. Before we were hypermiling, it was actually closer to 14 city / 21 highway. This, I believe, is because most “estimated” stats are skewed. However, since we started hypermiling in June of 2008, our van now gets 24 mpg city / and up to 38 on the highway. This, of course depends on a lot of factors: terrain, traffic, weather, how many kids/strollers I am hauling.
But most importantly, hypermiling saves my sanity. It erases the stress I used to feel while on the road, because I’m no longer that person that’s in a big hurry to get somewhere.