Thursday, July 24, 2008


I mentioned the other day that I started hypermiling. I’ve visited sites like Hypermiling and Cleanmpg to understand more. Good information, you just have to dig to find it.

I have coveted Brain Tail’s Prius for several years. I considered purchasing a hybrid vehicle four years ago, but was talked off the wall by the Honda dealer – assuring me it would take me longer to make up the difference in the cost of the car than it would be worth. Gasoline has increased 128.49% since then Honda man. You let me down. I am forced to gain miles per gallon utilizing more eccentric methods.

However, let me be clear. I am not hypermiling in an effort to be "green". I'm doing it because I'm cheap and I want to see how much I can squeeze out of my gas tank. The only reason I would purchase a hybrid vehicle now is so I can drive in the HOV lanes, so I can get home faster. Greenerificness is a by-product. Damn me as you will.

I have two things working in my favor; 1) I am positively anal about documenting my mileage, 2) I have a manual transmission and this next is a big one - 3) the air conditioning unit in my car isn’t working. I cannot be tempted to use it and as hot as it has been in Northern Virginia the last few days, I’d be usin’ it. Let me assure you, you can get used to driving in 90+ heat without the air conditioning. No, it's not fun, but baby, I can taste the cash and cash tastes like chocolate covered pretzles.

I get very good mileage on my 2004 Honda Civic already, averaging 36.31 mpg annually (data collected from April 2004 – July 2008). I’m starting slowly. This week, I implemented the hypermiling technique “driving like I have no brakes” ~ a good piece of advice ~ since coasting up to a light or intersection saves both on brakes and on the gasoline being expended. It takes more gasoline to begin movement from a standing position than it does to accelerate from a slowed one. I also started leaving earlier for work to avoid the more heavily trafficked commuter times.

It’s not easy and comes antithetical to my nature. For all my driving years I’ve been what I now consider a semi-aggressive driver. I accelerate to win, I pass cars with ease, I move in and out of traffic lanes with dexterity. Thing of beauty, that. I considered the space between two cars a waste and it was up to me to fill it up and right quick. I feel guilty driving at the speed limit, like a loser, leaving several car lengths in between me and the car ahead. I HATE watching cars pass me. It rankles.

But I’m working the program. When possible, I coast up to a light or intersection. I’m more aware of my acceleration. Soon, I will have my oil changed using the thinnest manufacturer recommended oil and I will inflate my tires to the manufacturer recommended PSI or whatever the measurement is. I may begin to shut my car off when I hit a particularly long red light. I’ll walk to the grocery store when I’m off to buy just a couple of things.

Will I buy a bicycle? Will I purchase a device that will give me real time data on my mpg? Maybe, maybe. It will depend on how obsessed I get. Filling up tomorrow and I will let you know if I see any improvement in my mpg from last week’s 40.59 mpg.


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