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2 BE A HYPERMILER (INCREASE YOUR FUEL EFFICIENCY)

This action focuses on increasing the fuel efficiency of your car by adopting new driving habits and maintaining your vehicle.

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why?

Hypermiling is the practice of increasing your car’s gas mileage by making skillful changes in the way you drive. Car maintenance and driving habits have a significant impact on overall fuel efficiency, so making seemingly simple changes such as properly inflating tires, observing the speed limit, and driving more sensibly can add up to markedly increased fuel economy, upwards of 30% in many situations (www.fueleconomy.gov). With driving occupying such a pervasive role in our society, this is no small accomplishment.


how to do this action:

The changes that will affect your fuel efficiency can largely be categorized under two headings. “Driving more sensibly” encompasses your actions and behaviors behind the wheel, while “Maintaining your car” deals with improving the performance of the car itself.

DRIVING MORE SENSIBLY.

— Avoid aggressive driving. Rapid breaking and acceleration significantly reduce fuel efficiency by up to 33% at highway speeds and 5% at city speeds.

— Observe speed limits. For most cars, fuel efficiency decreases dramatically for speeds over 50 mph. Each 5 mph over this mark can account for a 7-10% decrease, so driving 55 mph instead of 65 mph can increase fuel economy by up to 14-20%.

— Anticipate road and traffic conditions. By looking ahead for the red traffic light, bit of congestion, or curve in the road, you can begin to slow by coasting, minimizing the use of breaks and making the most of your car’s momentum. This can help you achieve more consistent driving speeds, especially in traffic, which minimizes the use of gasoline (for tips and details on how to incorporate this strategy, review this study).

— Avoid idling your engine. Idling your engine can waste up to a half gallon of gasoline per hour, while starting your car uses only a few seconds worth. So, if you know you will be stopped (for example; at long lights or picking up a friend), turn off your engine!

— Analyze your route for inefficiencies. Keep in mind that a longer route free of obstacles may use less gas than a shorter route riddled with congestion, stops and hills. An excellent resource to use if living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area is the Minnesota Department of Transportation website. The MN DOT traffic flow map can be found here.

MAINTAINING YOUR CAR.

— Properly inflate your tires. Under-inflated tires provide more resistance to your car’s forward motion, thus decreasing fuel efficiency. Each 1psi drop in tire pressure for all four tires results in a 0.3% drop in fuel efficiency. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall. (Reference: FuelEconomy.gov)

— Be sure your engine is properly tuned and your tires properly aligned. Depending on your engine’s condition, a tune-up can increase fuel efficiency by up to 4%. Proper tire alignment allows your car to move forward more easily and use gas more efficiently, potentially increasing fuel economy by up to 10%.

— Remove excess weight. It takes energy to move around all the weight in your car, so minimizing the unnecessary bulk can increase fuel efficiency. Expect a 1-2% increase for each 100 pounds of weight removed.


what will be measured?

KEY QUESTIONS

QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: How did incorporating different strategies of driving habits and car maintenance affect your overall fuel efficiency (miles per gallon)?

QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of increasing fuel efficiency by changing driving habits and car maintenance affect happiness, convenience, health, and cost?

BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (T2_BASELINE) to track your current fuel efficiency (miles per gallon).

QUALITATIVE


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (T2_BASELINE) as it relates to your current fuel efficiency and driving habits:

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

QUANTITATIVE
The first step to increasing your fuel efficiency is knowing your fuel efficiency, i.e. your miles per gallon. Simply divide the miles traveled by the gallons of gasoline used whenever you fill up your tank. Establishing this habit will allow you to monitor your progress as you complete this action.

Use the corresponding spreadsheet (T2_QUANTITATIVE) to track your fuel efficiency each time you fill up your tank. List strategies incorporated into your driving each time you list a new fuel efficiency.

QUALITATIVE
Part 1 - Ranking


Qualitative Scale

Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria, each time fuel efficiency is recorded on the spreadsheet (T2_QUALITATIVE) Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

  • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
    (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

  • 2. CONVENIENCE
    (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

  • 3. HEALTH
    (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

  • 4. COST
    (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

Part 2 - Blogging
Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. What different habits of driving and car maintenance did you adopt during the course of the project, and what kinds of effects did you see on your fuel efficiency? What strategies did you find easy to incorporate and which were not? Did any of the strategies you attempted make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable in traffic and why? What additional resources or strategies can you think of which would help increase fuel efficiency?


resources

FuelEconomy.gov from the Department of Energy
An excellent resource for much of the information listed above, as well as tips for planning and combining trips, informative vehicle comparisons, and links to additional resources.

"Saving Money at the Pump: Tips to Stretch Your Gas Dollars"
A brief summary of a variety of strategies to save money on gas by increasing fuel efficiency.

Hypermiling.com
A resource for more extreme changes to driving behavior to achieve more significant increases in fuel economy.

"How to Increase Your Gas Mileage"
From the Washington Post, one person’s narrative of learning about and incorporating hypermiling techniques into their driving habits.

"Traffic Experiments"
Tips for maintaining more consistent driving speeds through traffic congestion, saving gas and increasing fuel efficiency.


ACTION SPREADSHEETS

The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

T2_Be a Hypermiler Spreadsheet

If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

T2_BASELINE
T2_QUANTITATIVE
T2_QUALITATIVE