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.