A How to Guide to Hypermiling

Unless you live in a large city with good access to public transportation, chances are you depend on a car to get your around. If you’re an eco-conscious consumer, you likely have a fuel-efficient car, but did you know you can actually improve the fuel consumption of your car? Many drivers worldwide have figured out some simple tricks to drive in a more sustainable manner that also maximizes mileage. This is called hypermiling. Not only does this save you money, it also reduces your carbon footprint since you’ll be using less gas.

Drive Stick

Automatic might be easier, but it comes with additional weight to your car. While it might take a bit of time to get used to shifting gears, once you get the hang of it you’ll actually save a lot of money. Not only are manual cars a couple thousand dollars cheaper, the lighter weight means you’ll also end up saving gas as well. Of course, if you don’t have the money to switch right now there are still plenty of ways you can improve your fuel efficiency with automatics.

Don’t Speed

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Most cars become less fuel efficient once you hit over 104 km/h. On highways, obey the speed limit unless you really need to get somewhere in a hurry.

Coast Instead of Braking

This requires you to stay alert at all times when driving. Keep track of other drivers on the road and upcoming traffic signals and signs. Instead of hitting your brakes at a stop sign, let go of the gas and allow your vehicle to slow down to a stop by itself. If you wait until the last minute to stop you actually use a lot of fuel. Of course, you can’t always judge every situation, but the coasting technique does make you much more aware driver as well. Make sure you also coast smart and safe. Obey traffic laws and stay alert if someone stops quickly in front of you. Have your foot near the brakes so you can stop quickly at any time should you require it.

Use Cruise Control

Many newer cars have the option to set your speed until you take it off or brake. This feature prevents you from the speed creep many drivers experience especially when driving on highways. Of course, you may need to increase or decrease speed when going up or down hills, but on flat stretches of road you don’t need to keep your foot on the pedal the entire time.

Remove Unnecessary Items

The more weight your car has the more gas it requires to propel it forward. Take out any extraneous items you have in your trunk and leave them at home. Many people keep their beach chairs, camping equipment, etc. in the trunk when they don’t intend to use it. The same goes for the top box you keep on all year, but only use when you go on vacation.

Accelerate Quickly

Interestingly, the engine uses gas less efficiently if you increase your acceleration gradually. If you need to accelerate, do so as quickly as possible while still taking safety precautions. Once you’re at the desired speed, cruise the rest of the way until you need to accelerate again.

Use Hills to Your Advantage

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Yes, you can use these natural formations to your hypermiling advantage. In fact, it’s likely you are using this technique. The trick is to go slower uphill and then faster downhill. Going slower up the hill reduces fuel consumption as you’ll only use what you need to get up. Conversely going downhill faster uses less gas and provides momentum you can in place of engine power. Don’t take your foot off the accelerator until you’re going a little faster than normal.

Reduce Your AC Consumption

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This might seem obvious, but it takes a little bit of practice to actually get used to, especially in the middle of the summer. Air conditioning increases fuel consumption by about 10 percent. With that said, opening the windows creates aerodynamic drag, which also reduces your fuel efficiency. So what do you do? When driving faster than 72 km/h, stick to the air conditioning. Below that, use the ventilation fans to let in some air from the outside and open up the window slightly for a nice crossflow.

Park in the Sun

Starting up a cold engine uses up far more energy than starting a warm one. If you live in an area with cold winters, you might already have noticed your car uses more gas than in the summer. To combat this, use a natural resource – the sun. Parking your car in the sun keeps your car warmer so your engine doesn’t have to do as much work to heat up.

Maintain Your Car

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Another obvious tip, but regular maintenance can also decrease fuel consumption. Changing your oil can improve your engine performance while ensuring your tires are properly inflated and balanced puts less stress on the engine. Both of these very simple tasks can help improve fuel efficiency by a couple km/L. Better yet, it’s part of a sustainable lifestyle as a well-maintained car also lasts longer.

Plan an Efficient Route

If your normal route to work often takes you through stop and go traffic, see if you can’t find another route that will be smoother. It might take you longer distance-wise, but if it has less cars and traffic lights, it can end up saving you time and fuel since you’ll be coasting along at a more consistent speed without needing to idle or brake often.

While all of these tips might seem fairly small by themselves, when combined together many hypermilers have been able to get around 10-15 more km/L than the car manufacturer advertises. If you aren’t already using some of these techniques, try to add a couple into your daily driving and see how much less fuel you use. A sustainable life doesn’t mean you have to do without a car, it just means you need to be smarter about your driving. With that said, the best way to reduce your impact on the natural world is to reduce car use and ride a bike or walk as much as you can.

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