I'm afraid you're going to hear more than a few bits of money-saving advice from me! I'm a self-proclaimed Queen of Tightwaddery! We've been honing our skills at our house since I quit my job 3 years ago. I was determined to be a stay-at-home mom, and discovered that by being careful, I could save as much as I was bringing home, and be happier doing it!

Hypermiling is one way we save money. The term "hypermiling" is new to us - we read about it in Reader's Digest a few months back. Some hypermilers go crazy and take risks. In our house, we've chosen a few things we can do to improve gas mileage without risking our lives or ticking off other drivers. Here are a few that anyone can do:

1. Watch your speed. Driving 75 on the freeway might be legal, but it uses a lot more gas. Keeping it to 65 (or better yet, 60) can save 2-3 miles per gallon or more.

2. Avoid accelerations and braking. While this might sound like using cruise control, it goes beyond that. You want to make your speed changes gradually, a) allowing your vehicle to stay in the highest gear possible when accelerating (lower rpms), and b) taking advantage of momentum (coast, don't brake, whenever possible). So if you see a stop sign ahead, stop accelerating sooner and coast. Perfection would mean coasting to a stop without needing the brake (but consideration for drivers behind you usually prohibits this!). See how close you can come! When accelerating, do it gradually, allowing your vehicle to shift earlier (let up on the gas a little to encourage the shift). If you see a slow-down or big curve ahead, ease up and leave room so you don't have to hit the brakes.

3. Get the lead out - of your vehicle, that is. I improved the gas mileage on my van about 1-2 mpg by taking out the back two (unused) seats! Don't use your vehicle as a storage unit!

4. Check your tires. Under-inflated tires will cost you a mile or two per gallon.

There are lots more ways to improve your mileage and save money. Google "hypermile" or "ecomodder" and learn specific things you can do with your make and model of vehicle.

Do the math - you might be surprised how much you can save. Here's an example, using a 20 gallon gas tank and 20 MPG:

You can drive around looking to save 10 cents a gallon on gas. Assuming you find cheaper gas without burning a lot of it while looking, you'll save $2.00 on a fill up.

OR you can apply a few of the principles listed above. I improved my van's gas mileage doing only those things by about 5 mpg. 5mpg x 20 gallons is 100 extra miles I can go on a tank of gas. At 20 mpg, that's a 5 gallon savings - at $3/gallon, that's $15 per fill. (That's like finding gas 75 cents per gallon cheaper!) How many times do you fill in a year? You do your own math and see the savings!

My husband drives a lot and is squeezing 41-44 mpg from his car rated for about 33 mpg. With all his driving, he figures he's saved about $175 per month over the last 3 months.

All this hypermiling has made us very aware of how much driving a mile costs. Now we look at every trip out in dollars and cents. If you had to pay $2 to run to the store and back, would you still do it? (If you're going for a gallon of milk or a dozen eggs, tack the $2 in gas onto that item - is it worth it?) We've started combining trips, planning ahead to avoid extra trips out, carpooling, using the car instead of the van when we can, etc, etc, etc.

Awareness is the first step. Try it and see!

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jj32x9 years ago
if you coast up to a junction in neutral you get that little bit free. it doesn't save much but every little helps.
treep1 (author)  jj32x9 years ago
You're right - every little bit helps. My husband drives a car with a manual transmission and he coasts in neutral every time he can - down long hills, etc. If you have an automatic transmission, you probably don't coast very well in neutral. You're probably better off leaving it in drive and coasting. My husband was saying that at least in my vehicle (maybe in all newer automatics) when you stop accelerating, the fuel is automatically cut off anyway, giving you the same effect. I like your point, though - and it applies to any slow-down situation. I ride with/see people all the time who accelerate right up to the point they need their brakes. They're wasting fuel, and also beating up their brakes. Anticipate the stop and start coasting as soon as feasible for best economy. Thanks for the comment!
One little note, sitting in neutral at traffic lights or coasting in neutral isn't as good as putting the clutch in on a manual, see the car has to use a little fuel in neutral as the gearbox is still engaged, you can hear the difference if you put it in neutral and as you lift the clutch you'll hear the engine note change. Some cars actively increase air flow a little bit and some just bear it out but either way the gearbox completely disengaged will be better. Granted slipping the clutch a lot will wear it out faster. It's interesting how powerful the effect of drafting a truck is, see I cycle (beats hypermiling) to tech and there's an industrial estate beside with a long straight road, if I cycle behind a truck I can be going far, far faster with much less effort, though it's not a car you can safely draft trucks to save a bit as long as the nose of the bonnet is within the slipstream which is pretty long at motorway speeds. a big enough distance to be safe anyway.
skunkbait9 years ago
Good thoughts. I commute 130 miles a day. I coast about 4 miles of that. Hey, it adds up. Passive drafting is not bad. But agressive drafting is very dangerous. Also, I find a LITTLE over-inflation (4-6 lbs) of the tires helpful. (I go quite a bit over that, but wouldn't recommend it to others.) A freer-flowing air-filter makes a bit of difference too. Also, just clean the car out! You'd be surprised how many of us are carrying 200lbs. or more of unneccessary stuff around with us.
Good suggestions. I would like to warn though, that hypermiling by driving behind large trucks can get you killed.
treep1 (author)  Lithium Rain9 years ago
You're so right. And many people take the hypermiling to that extreme. You'll hear LOTS of ways to save gas, but I hope people will filter them through their common sense and throw out ideas that are dangerous or illegal. In addition, there are those who are giving ideas like trying to run your car off water (separating off the hydrogen and burning it). This might work, but requires electricity. If you get the electricity from your car, you'll need more gas to get it. If you get it via a battery that you charge at home, you're raising your electric bill. So while it might be fun to experiment with, it isn't saving you money, which is the point. So, yes, use common sense and be safe!
Kiteman9 years ago
There is also a relevant Instructable.
treep1 (author)  Kiteman9 years ago
And a mighty fine one I might add. Thanks for pointing it out. And I see I have given poor advice on acceleration - there's a point at which you can accelerate too slowly. My apologies if I've lead anyone astray. Now I have to go say confession to my husband, "Mr. Ecomodder" - this will probably cost me a side view mirror from my car. (His is already gone.)