HYPERMILING: Time V Money, Who Wins?July 28th, 2008 by Derek Sheppard
I had to make a 400-mile round trip journey this weekend, and I’ll admit it. I hypomiled it.
Staring at a three-hour chug, I couldn’t convince myself to drive 60 the entire way. The speed limit (For cars) was 70 a good bit of the way anyways.
I’ve already incriminated myself enough on this blog, so I’ll just say I did what people do when they have long road trips and free flowing traffic. Yes, I turned the radio up.
I also got thinking about the age-old struggle, so perfectly summed up by Pink Floyd, between time and money.
Get there fast and burn money/gas, or take your time and save some coin (and maybe a speeding ticket.)?
Mathematics, my old nemesis, is making an encore. If you drive 200 miles each way, the trip out would take 2 hours 51 minutes at 70 mph. At 60 mph, the same trip takes 3 hours 20 minutes.
The EPA cites a 1999 study that claims every mile per hour over 60 is like adding $0.30 to every gallon of gas. So is the cost worth the time? In my rush to get to my destination, no, it wasn’t.
But what about your morning commute? We’ve all seen, or been, those people rushing down the interstate at or north of 70 mph.
Let’s say your commute is 20 miles to work. The same speeds result in times of 17 or 20 minutes, respectively.
Driving faster in this case is a much harder sell. Yes, you could argue that over the course of a year (50 weeks, 5 days a week, twice a day) that extra three minutes each way adds up to 25 hours to your commute. But is leaving three minutes early really that bad? If you’re at work right now, and you’ve read this far, you’ve probably already wasted three minutes.
I can’t seem to find it, but I recall reading one debate (I’ll use loose judgment and call forum flame wars "debate".) about lowering speed limits to 55 mph that focused on saving money versus longer drive times.
When people ask me if I’ll keep hypermiling after I’m done with the project for the blog, I break it down this way.
If I’m driving to California for vacation, I’ve only got so much time for vacation, and I want it to be spent sitting on the beach, not I-5. In that case, if I’ve got the money to spare, hypermiling is probably out.
But every day (Where I rack up the most miles) when I drag myself into the office, I can afford to take an extra couple minutes. I can use the money for my next road trip.
(PS: Before I left on vacation, I filled up again. Even with a fair portion of the tank being non-hypermiled, frantic, Seattle-ized, get to the airport fast driving, I got 33.7 mpg. The nearly all-highway tank for the weekend road trip was 34 mph. Imagine if I’d gone 60 how high the number could be, remembering that my COMBINED mileage on the first tank was 36 mpg.)