Hypermiling to improve your miles per gallon

Seven On Your Side
March 16, 2012 7:36:17 PM PDT
Average gas prices crested $4 for a gallon of regular in six states including New York and Connecticut.

Even though it's more expensive than ever this time of year to fill up your tank there are easy ways to save hundreds in pump prices.

Keeping your trunk free of heavy object is just one way.

Paul Flory gets "MO MPG", he drives a hybrid car, but it's the way he drives it that saves him even more gas every year.

"It's called hypermiling or driving economically and the benefits are safety, fuel economy, stress reduction and les tire and brake wear," Flory said.

But how much gas could he save on a normal commute?

Eyewitness News chose a 20-mile route, combining back roads with stop lights, and a hilly highway.

First, the retired molecular biologist and resident hypermiler took the wheel.

"You want to start off gradually," Flory said.

Flory says he anticipates red lights using as little brakes as possible.

"It's going green so I saved a little there by not stopping," Flory said.

But if you do get caught at a light, turning off the motor saves gas but critics say it's not safe.

"If it's going to be more than 10 seconds, turn it off," Flory said.

And when you accelerate back up, avoid jack rabbit starts.

"When you floor it, you're using the full power of the engine and you are burning a lot more gas," Flory said.

Also, if you're not in heavy traffic and on a big downhill he says coast in neutral.

"Putting it in neutral you still have control of the brakes and everything right?" Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda asked.

"Brakes and accelerator, yeah," Flory said.

Safety experts warn its dangerous to not have the ability to gas out of a possible collision, but do agree with Flory's next point: slow down.

"Driving slower is the number one thing you can do to improve your fuel economy," Flory said.

Flory demonstrated the technique of pulsing the accelerator up to the speed limit and then gliding.

"But you're changing your speed limit between 5 and 10 mph," Pineda said.

"I'm trying to do it to not irritate people behind me. I consider it safe, I don't do it when there is traffic behind me," Flory said.

Then, Nina Pineda drove the exact same course.

"I like to make the light, so I speed up at the light," Pineda said.

She used all of her driving methods like accelerating quickly after stops.

"That's killing you," Flory said.

On the highway, driving above the speed limit made her the anti-hypermiler. "You win on the road but lose at the fuel pump," Flory said.

At the end of the tour they compared. Pineda averaged 49 miles per gallon, but Paul's cruising gave him 61 miles per gallon. Pineda's monthly gas bill at $59 would be $11 higher than Flory's at $48.

"It can save you a lot of money, but even more importantly to me it's safer and it also releases your stress and that's hard to put a dollar value on," Flory said.

Over the course of the year using his driving methods, you could save $150, now that's worth slowing down for.


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