A few weeks ago, my friend small_pond wrote about how she was starting to adopt some hypermiling habits while commuting, and I wanted to add my two cents about my fuel economy as well. As the gas prices have gotten higher and higher this summer, I know that more and more people in this country have started to change their behavior when it comes to gas usage. While I’m not thrilled at having to pay more at the gas pump, I truly believe that it’s a good thing that oil and gas prices have gotten to the point where people are finally taking a look at what they can do to conserve energy.

What do I do to save fuel?

  1. I bought a new car.  I wouldn’t recommend this as an easy way to save gas and money, obviously. In my case, the old Saturn was starting to fall apart and become more expensive to maintain than it was worth. instead of staying within the American-made GM/Saturn family (we were an all-Saturn household for many years), I looked for an affordable car that got great gas mileage. Hybrids were tempting, but a little out of my price range, so I settled on the Honda Fit, which gets almost as good (if not sometimes better!) mileage on the highway.
  2. I keep track of my mileage. For anyone who has been following my Twitter posts, occasionally you’ll see something that starts with @fuelfrog, and then a bunch of numbers.  Fuelfrog is a very simplistic application that simply tracks how good your mileage is.  Every time I fuel up, I text Fuelfrog (through Twitter) how many miles I’ve driven, the price per gallon, and number of gallons purchased.  Fuelfrog then takes those numbers and makes a nifty graph that gives me insight into how my driving habits influence my fuel efficiency.  It doesn’t do much other than make a graph, but it’s neat, and it keeps me aware of how much gas I’m using.
  3. Hypermiling.  Yes, I coast and try not to brake too suddenly or gun the engine to accelerate quickly.  But I don’t try to stay under 65 mph or draft behind trucks to lessen wind resistance.  I also haven’t been keeping paying special attention to my tire pressure, since it’s a fairly new car.  However, Sunday morning, which was the first cold morning of the season, an indicator lit up on my dashboard to tell me my tire pressure was low.  Apparently, if I had just driven a few miles, the tire would have warmed up and the light would have probably gone off, but I didn’t want to take any chances and I drove to the nearest gas station to fill up the tires.  Now that I actually know how to put air in my tires (yes, I am a dumb girl and couldn’t figure out the air pump for a good five minutes), I’m thinking of investing in a tire pressure gauge, so I can keep my tires at an optimum pressure at all times.
  4. I lighten the load.  I don’t usually leave a whole lot of stuff in my car anymore.  Trash gets taken out regularly (mostly), and if I have books or boxes, they come into the house as soon as I get home.  Where before I would drive around with tons of binders in the back seat or trunk, now I only take what I need and no more.  The lower the weight, the better the mileage.

So those are my tips for good fuel economy.  Of course, ideally, we should all not be using our cars at all, but since I live a good 10 miles from the nearest rehearsal site, I don’t think I’ll be walking or biking to work any time soon.

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