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!