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A Look At Hypermiling

In this day and age, where we are moving increasingly towards using less fuel in vehicles by driving more efficiently or using things like electric or hybrid vehicles, making the best use of what you have is important. Because of this, something dubbed hypermiling has started to become a bit more popular. Through this article we are going to be looking at what hypermiling is, as well as why it is important (at least to the people who do it, if not to you as well). This should help enlighten you a bit as to why some drivers use annoying maneuvers and tactics while out on the road, and may even bring you in on it from a financial perspective!

Hypermiling – Breaking Down the Name

One of the easiest ways to learn what things mean is to break down their name. Hyper means an overage of. Miling simply relates to the number of miles you get (whether this is per gallon of fuel or other substance, per kilowatt of electricity, etc.). So with these two words broken down and merged together, we pretty much just have “driving a lot of miles.” Great, you are thinking; I already do this. Well, while the literal term just represents driving a lot, what we are really talking about is driving a lot more than you normally could, and in this case we are talking about for the same amount of energy. For example, taking the vehicle you normally get 20 miles per gallon with and increasing it to 25. This would actually be a pretty big benefit to someone who does a lot of driving: it would save 25% on gas! Of course, there is a bit to doing it as well, and a lot of it has to be learned and turned in to a habit if you really want to push the effectiveness of your vehicles.

So Where Do I Start?

Getting started with hypermiling is pretty easy to start. We all have to start out somewhere, so going with the basics makes this much more simple. There are actually a couple of things you can throw in to your normal driving style that will go a long way:

  • Not going faster than 60 miles per hour (as this will decrease your mileage, with the faster you go causing you to become even more inefficient)
  • Accelerating slowly so you are not wasting a lot of fuel just trying to get caught up to speed

Something you may notice with this is that both of these rely on using methods that make you get to where you are going a bit slower. This is actually something you will just have to get used to if you plan to hypermile, because it is our bad driving habits that get us where we want to go faster and at the same time lead to decreased gas mileage. It ends up really being a battle between speed and cost, and different people have different takes on which of these is going to be the most important. And I will be honest, there are times where I need to get somewhere fast and I have to throw these ideas out the window. But for the most part, I have plenty of time to get where I need to go and therefore I will take it slow and efficient.

These two skills are the easiest to adapt to because they are simple to remember. There are also some things that are a bit more tough and will generally depend on circumstances (such that two events will never be the same). These are as follows:

  • Try to coast as much as possible, rather than using your brakes at lights. This will help conserve fuel and cut down on wear and tear of the brake pads
  • Use cruise control – this depends on traffic conditions and such, but if you can use it, do. Not only does it help by making it a lot easier on you, but it also increases gas mileage due to cutting down in variance with the gas pedal

The goal with the lights should be to hit your brakes as little as possible. The more you are using them, the worse off you are. At the same time, this can be annoying for both yourself and the people that are driving behind you, in that you are slowing down long before you get to the light or stop sign. In any case, though, it is a part of hypermiling and if you really want to push things, you will need to start doing it without really thinking about it. Once it becomes a part of your nature, it will cease to bother you any more!

The second, with cruise control, is something that is not in every car, although it is in most. If you are an awesome driver and you are great at keeping your speeds pretty steady, this will have less of an impact than if you are always fluctuating. Even so, you still still save, so it is well worth using it. The reason for this is that no matter how good you are, you just are not as good as a computer that processes a lot of relevant information at once. Especially when it comes to going up and down hills, the computer will make much more efficient decisions than you can. Letting it handle everything will make your fuel go further!

Regenerative Braking

A new thing we deal with in cars now is the concept of regenerative braking. So what is this? Well, hybrids and electric cars run a lot of energy (if not all, in the case of the electric cars) off a battery. Regenerative braking converts your braking energy in to battery power, recharging it a bit for each time you do it. If you are able to go 30 miles on the amount of electricity you have and you are able to charge it just 10% through the regenerative braking, for example, you just added another 3.333 miles to your tank.

It is important to notice that earlier I said not to use brakes unless you actually need to. This was in reference to any vehicle without regenerative braking (which is still fairly new so most cars do not have it). Whether your car has this or not will determine whether you are better off using your brakes or doing the coasting method. If you are driving a newer hybrid or an electric car, it should already be equipped with this.

Choosing Paths

An interesting part of electric cars and hybrids with regenerative braking is that they can actually go further through traffic than they can on the highway. This is the opposite with vehicles that run purely on gas. You will always want to pick your path accordingly. If you are running a gas vehicle, try to pick ways that go down a highway or other straight path with as little traffic as possible. If you are running one of the others, pick the city. Sure, it will take longer to get there, but you are again saving money! I use driving as a way to relax anyways, so a longer drive simply means more time to relax.

Annoying Other Drivers

You really have to just get over this fear, if you have it. Hypermiling is very different from our normal driving methods, and it does affect others. But if they have an issue with it, they can simply go around. You do, however, want to ensure that you are not blocking them from being able to pass. Be courteous and you should be perfectly fine. Different people go at different speeds and have different driving styles, so what you feel the most comfortable with (in this case the hypermiling) should be what you do, so long as you are doing it safely.

Conclusion

Hypermiling is turning in to almost a sport, where you try to push your car to its limits to get as many miles per gallon or charge as you possibly can. By using different tactics, you can increase the mileage of any car, but some will be affected much more than others. I have heard of people getting over 80 miles per gallon in a Prius, for example, or over 70 miles on a charge in a Chevrolet Volt (without making it start burning the fuel). These are some awesome feats, and they go to show that you can save money by simply changing your driving style. It does take a lot of work, but what you need to do is turn it in to second nature, where you no longer think about what you are doing and instead just do it. Even if you just implement one or two of these tricks, you are bound to get better mileage in your vehicle!

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