How many miles per gallon are you getting in your car?

If you’re like many consumers, you have no idea of your car’s mileage per gallon. You probably took note of the number when you acquired the car, but soon enough dismissed it as a rather meaningless figure that had little bearing on real world driving conditions.

What’s more, you probably give little thought to some of the other details of your daily commute, such as your style for braking when approaching a red light, or accelerating on green. And aside from complaining about the bad traffic, you probably have little idea just how much time you spend actually idling in traffic.

But there’s a school of thought that says you should care about all these things because they can make a real difference in the amount you spend on fuel. The movement is known as hypermiling and the basic theory is that, with a few basic tweaks to your driving style, you can get a lot more mileage out of the fuel in your tank.

Here are some of the basics: When driving around town, stopping suddenly and accelerating quickly consume more gas than cruising slowly toward and away from a stop light. In highway driving conditions, setting your car on cruise control can help you avoid that lead foot on the gas and the brakes, which adds up at the pump. And, because you as the driver have more power over the gas you consume than you probably realize, it’s important to track you car’s mileage per gallon after every trip, so you can track your progress.

This may all sound rather silly: Even here at CEA where we encourage consumers to conserve energy whenever possible, we understand that some extreme energy saving techniques can be penny wise but pound foolish. Sparing the air conditioner can save fuel, until you factor in all the extra drag on the car produced by open windows. Likewise, we wouldn’t recommend slowly cruising all the way to your office, unless it’s only a block away.

On the other hand, some of the research around hypermiling suggests that a few simple changes can produce significant savings. They may also make you realize that you’ve been driving a lot more aggressively than you thought. And who knows, they may translate into a more pleasant, peaceful commute. Consider this video about the way drivers typically approach red lights.

You be the judge. Like extreme couponing, hypermiling is not for everyone. But for the extremely dedicated and disciplined, it could prove well worth the effort. No one ever said conserving energy had to be easy.

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About The Author

David Holt is President of Consumer Energy Alliance, serving in this position since January 2006. As the voice of the energy consumer, Consumer Energy Alliance works to increase domestic energy production and reduce consumer energy prices. CEA seeks to motivate and provide a voice for consumers interested in vital public issues, such as responsible access to available natural resources; power generation; impact of energy prices on business, agriculture and consumers; development of a robust, domestic renewable energy industry; and utilization of new technologies that allow for higher levels of energy efficiency and conservation. With more than 220 consumer and energy affiliate organizations representing every sector of the American economy, and 300,000-plus consumer advocates, Consumer Energy Alliance continues to expand dialogue and develop joint messaging among the energy and consuming sectors through its various activities. David is a Professor with Norway’s Nordland University Graduate School of Business, Master of Science in Energy Management Program, in cooperation with the International Institute of Energy Policy & Diplomacy at the MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia. He serves on the board of Consumer Energy Education Foundation and the St Anne Foundation. David is also a member of the Texas Bar Association and the Houston Bar Association.