How to be a hypermiler
Photo by: iChaz
Gas prices are on the rise, and people are getting extremely creative in coming up with ways to get the maximum amount of miles out of each gallon of gas. A rare group called hypermilers modify their driving habits significantly to improve mileage and reduce vehicle emissions. Hypermiling also generally involves driving a hybrid vehicles like the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius. Two years ago I would have laughed at the whole hypermiling concept, but with gas prices the way they are now, I thought I’d better do a little research and learn more about hypermiling. Here’s some information about how to be a hypermiler:
The MPG Meter
The first thing you must do to begin hypermiling is to track your gas mileage. The most cost effective way to do that is to manually calculate your gas mileage. The problem with the manual method is you can’t see the real-time impact of how you are driving on your gas mileage. That’s where the MPG meter comes in. Seems most true hypermilers have an MPG Meter.
How to be a hypermiler basics
As I mentioned already, hypermiling is about adjusting the way you drive. While some of the techniques used only apply to hybrid vehicles, most apply to any vehicle, including those gas guzzling SUVs. Here are just a few of the techniques employed by hypermiling experts:
Go the speed limit
While each vehicle has an optimum speed for maximum gas mileage, in general for every 5mph above 55mph you drive, you lose up to 10% of your cars fuel economy. At 10%, slowing down can save you a great deal of money. Driving the speed limit is much safer too!
Drive without brakes
Before you decide I’ve gone crazy, let me explain. Driving without brakes (or DWB in hypermiling lingo) is all about minimizing the use of your car’s brakes, but doing so with common sense. The basic principle is to avoid using the brake to take off speed that was achieved through he use of gas. The trick is to anticipate what’s coming down the road. Watch for upcoming lights, stop signs and curves. When you see them, begin to coast as early as possible to avoid using the brakes. In a hybrid, lots of coasting recharges the batteries too, which provides another added advantage.
If you can avoid stopping all together, that’s the best situation to be in as starting your car off from a dead stop consumes a great deal of energy.
Face out parking
When you park, make an effort to face out. I don’t mean backing into the parking place, but park a little further out and pull through the spaces so your car is facing out. This avoids the wasted gas of having to back out when you leave. Better yet, hypermilers will tell you park on a hill or incline so the car is facing down and you can coast out.
Be careful with this one though, as I’ve almost been hit head on a few times pulling through parking places when someone else was pulling in.
Turn off your car and coast
With a hybrid, the car automatically turns off the engine when it’s not needed. This of course isn’t the gas with a standard vehicle. You can however simulate a hybrid by placing your car in neutral, turning off the engine and coasting. Turns out the gas needed to restart the vehicle when you need to is minimal.
Now, this is one of the more risky hypermiling techniques as with the engine off and your car in neutral you have less control of your car and you can’t be as responsive without the engine.
Keep your car maintained
Two important tips here: Keep your oil changed and keep your tires properly inflated. As oil gets older it thickens putting more drain on the engine. Proper tire pressure is important too as it takes a great deal of energy to push around under inflated tires.
Some hypermilers recommend over inflating the tires. I don’t recommend this. You’ll wear your tires our faster and it could be dangerous as your tires won’t have the proper ground contact.
Pick the best route
When picking the route you’ll take, the shortest isn’t always the best. Hypermilers will tell you to pick routes with less stops and lots of downhill grades. You want to avoid stop and go traffic and routes that have large hills to climb.
Some hypermilers will tell you that if you are sitting in one place for more than 10 seconds, turn your car off. This will save on mileage overtime. Again, restarting consumes very little energy.
These are just a few of the many tricks and techniques hypermilers use. You can find lots more and learn more about how to be a hypermiler by visiting a site called Green Hybrid.
What do you think about these techniques? Are you using any of them? Are you a hypermiler or maybe have an additional tip? Share your thoughts on how to be a hypermiler! Add a comment!