The single most effective method of increasing your gas mileage (outside of buying a brand new hybrid) is easy: Drive calmly.
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• Aggressive Driving
- Driving aggressively has a big impact on fuel economy, lowering gas mileage by five percent in city driving and thirty-three percent on the highway. When you stomp on the gas, slam on the brakes, rev up, and race up an incline, you decrease the efficiency of your engine. Easily save an estimated five to thirty-three percent of your fuel by simply increasing the calm.
- Though those racing stripes on your Camaro may disagree, most vehicles are built to run most efficiently at speeds around fifty-five miles per hour. For every five miles above sixty miles per hour, your vehicle wastes seven to twenty-three percent more fuel. Not cool.
• Excess Weight
- Just as those of us who carry extra weight feel more sluggish, for every one hundred pounds of extra weight on a vehicle, miles per gallon are reduced by two percent. Check out your car or truck to make sure you’re not lugging around needless baggage.
• Excess Idling
- You know the saying about idle hands? Well, idling engines could be just as bad. When vehicles idle, they are using up fuel to go nowhere. Long lines at drive-thrus or banks could mean some serious idle time so just park and walk inside.
• Cruise Control
- Indulge in the cruise control when covering roads that are somewhat flat and use less fuel by keeping speeds constant. Just skip the cruise control when going over those lovely Kentucky hills–it causes the engine to rev up faster and gulp fuel.
• Overdrive Gears
- When you use the highest gears possible, your car’s engine speed is lowered as is your fuel consumption. Seems easy.
• Air Conditioning
- This is up for some debate but conventional wisdom dictates that when tootling around town, it is best to open your windows to cool your cab but when flying at 55 mph or higher, the A/C is best. This is because using the A/C can lower fuel economy by about a mile per gallon but when you travel at speeds above 55, open windows create drag and can actually reduce fuel economy even more than the air conditioning.
- Do it. It reduces your fuel use and the stress of your commute. There are several websites that help commuters connect to others interested in carpooling so check out who might be looking to ride to work with you.
• Combining Trips
- According to the Department of Energy, “several short trips, each one taken from a cold start, can use twice as much fuel as one trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm.” Plan a route and tackle all of your errands at once!
Sources: The US government’s website on fuel economy, www.fueleconomy.gov; www.cartalk.com; www.edmunds.com; www.npr.org; www.doe.gov; www.epa.gov;