The Commute

An informative and entertaining discussion on our ferries and highways with Kitsap Sun reporters.
Subscribe to RSS

An Adventure in Hypermiling Begins

June 29th, 2008 by Derek Sheppard

I hate math, but these numbers have never been more important to me: 4.55, 49.14, 1950 and 28.

My high school math teachers would be so proud to see me hunched over my cell phone calculator every time I’m about to leave a gas station. This is where I wage my battle with numbers as I carefully plunk in numbers after a quick peek at the trip and the pump’s gallon readout, followed by a bit of advanced calculus (for journalists) called dividing.

Twenty-eight miles per gallon. Not bad. $49.14 for 10.8 gallons of premium $4.55-a-gallon fuel. Ugh. Even if gas stayed the same price (funny, huh?) for a 12,000 mile year of driving, I’d spend $1,950 on gas. I don’t even need the calculator to know I don’t like that number.

Now I have a new number in mind: 35. Miles per gallon that is. It’s a 25 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Doable. Again, assuming those figures, I’d save about $390 a year.

No, I’m not going to buy a new car. I’m going to employ some techniques of “hypermilers” who take a different approach to driving to squeeze out every last penny and wheel rotation from their fuel.

The premise is simple. I’ll take my car, a 2004 Pontiac Vibe GT (It requires the pricey premium fuel.), and drastically change the way I drive. Along the way, hopefully you’ll learn something, and I’ll give you honest observations about the monetary, logistical and psychological effects of hypermiling.

You and I, we’re probably pretty similar out there in the concrete jungle. I see you all the time. Accelerate too fast? Brake a little too late? Enjoy cruising at 67 (80 if you’re on I-5) on the highway? For most of us, driving habits like these are buried deep like a little petrol-slurping chigger under our skin.

The bottom line, is that the WAY we choose to drive can really save or cost us money.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be transforming my own driving, and proving links to gas-saving stories, making some videos, talking with local hypermilers, mechanics, you name it.

If you’ve got ideas, send them my way, and if you want to take this ride with me, keep track of your mpgs. We’ll see who makes the most progress. OPEC dares you.

3 Responses to “An Adventure in Hypermiling Begins”

  1. feltgar Says:

    Driving style can defiantly save fuel. Pontiac recommends premium fuel for your Vibe GT. Check your owner’s manual real close. Most engines that recommend premium can be driven fine with regular. You will lose a little power and acceleration, but since you are going for efficiency not speed you should do fine.

  2. Anti-Commuter Says:

    Good for you! While you’re at it, you might want to see if moving closer to work might help with your cause.

    If your average commute to work is 20 miles one way, you could afford to buy about a $50K more expensive home only 5 miles from work and be none-the-worse financially for it. (In fact, you’ll be far better off because you’ll add about 150 hours a month in quality time to your life every year. Check out http://www.costofcommuting.com for more details.

  3. Nikkole Says:

    Great idea to calculate your annual cost of fuel using your MPG. That’s sure to be an even greater motivator! I’m going to start doing that too. I’ve started just with my baseline fuel-up last week (getting about exactly revised EPA estimates for my 1999 Kia Sephia–25.9 MPG)

    Oh, and to Anti-Commuter…excellent suggestion. I am blessed to telecommute for my full-time work (the blog is more of a hobby). I do have to leave the “office” for several meetings per month and often have road travel, but miss out on the daily rush to get out the door on time, the pressure, the stress, and the time wasted on the commute. Ends up saving so much more than just gas, really!