Hypermiling Success Found in Compromise

As you may recall, I first started hypermiling (driving in a manner that maximizes fuel efficiency) back in June. Well, after three months of trying different things, I’ve kind of settled into a mix of hypermiling and my (formerly) normal driving.

Acceleration – This is my biggest adjustment. I used to just accelerate quickly everywhere I went, not quite maxing out, but getting very close. Now, I have decided that the best strategy is to accelerate “briskly” rather than like a grandma. It actually seems to conserve gas better (in my town at least) to briskly accelerate, reaching your cruising speed quickly, rather than accelerate like a grandma.

Whether this is best for you depends on your driving conditions (and the type of car you drive I would imagine). If you have to stop at a light every two blocks, driving like a grandma is probably better.

Coasting in neutral – I stopped coasting in neutral most of the time, though I still catch myself doing it sometimes out of habit. I’m too concerned about increased wear and tear on the transmission and brakes. However, for long downhill stretches I’ll still pop it into neutral.

Air conditioning – One thing I found out is that running with the A/C on absolutely kills mileage. I knew it was bad, but I sure got a lesson these last few months. In the city, running with A/C drops mileage to about 19 mpg, whereas without I’ll get anywhere from 23 to 25. I try to avoid A/C whenever possible, suffering from some uncomfortable heat sometimes. But I’m a wimp when it comes to temperature, so I run it more often than I really need to.

Timing traffic lights – I’ve gotten pretty good at timing the lights on the main streets here in Orem. I found out that if I can drive 40 mph consistently (the speed limit on our main road, State Street), I’ll get 40 mpg. I discovered this one day after freshly filling up my tank and pulling onto State Street. I somehow managed to time the lights perfectly, driving about 3 miles without stopping, and slowing down/accelerating very little.

Shutting off the engine – Well, I’ve pretty much given up on this. Again, it comes down to wear and tear. However, when going to fast food restaurants I’ll park and go inside rather than waiting in the drive through. Just today, I made the mistake of sitting in a Taco Bell drive through where I watched my mileage drop from 21.9 to 20 (this was after only 12.4 miles were put on after fill up though, so it was dropping faster than normal… but still!)

The bad thing about this though is that if I just quit going to fast food restaurants, I’d save enough money in one month to pay for that month’s gas, plus half the next month’s.

Overall, my mix of adjustments has brought me to a happy place where I’m comfortable that I can maintain safe driving habits (some hypermiling techniques are simply too distracting), and not cause too much wear and tear on my car. I guess it’s better called “enthusiasticmiling.”

This results in about 22 mpg in the city. And, since freeway hypermiling techniques are very easy to follow, I still get around 35 mpg freeway, which is no change from before.

For all the hypermiling techniques I’ve tried, check out all the posts in the Hypermiling category.

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