Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

'Hypermiling': Word of the year!

Thanksgiving. While everyone else in the country has gotten to their destination, rested up and sat down to a bountiful home-cooked meal, Wayne Gerdes will be spending the day a little differently: Driving down the eastern seaboard (including through Philadelphia in the wee hours of the morning) in a bid to set a new world record for the highest fuel economy achieved in driving through all 48 contiguous states of the U.S.

'Hypermiling': Word of the year!

Thanksgiving. While everyone else in the country has gotten to their destination, rested up and sat down to a bountiful home-cooked meal, Wayne Gerdes will be spending the day a little differently: Driving down the eastern seaboard (including through Philadelphia in the wee hours of the morning) in a bid to set a new world record for the highest fuel economy achieved in driving through all 48 contiguous states of the U.S.

Daily News readers will remember Gerdes from our profile last summer showing him a man who loves his country enough to go to extraordinary lengths to protect it. He sees fuel economy as a matter of national security. Adding to that, though, the previous 48-state record was set by a husband-and-wife team from Australia. It's not just that they're foreigners driving around on our roads to set a world record, but come on: The guy dissed 'hypermiling,' a word Gerdes coined to describe a variety of behaviors that boost fuel-efficiency beyond a car's rated mileage.

"Our understanding of Hypermiling is where you sit 4” behind a truck and you suck on the back of the truck and the truck can be doing 90 mph and you do not use any gas. Dangerous, illegal," said John Taylor in the initial press conference.

Maybe Taylor and others will have a better idea of what 'hypermiling' means now that the word has been named "Word of the Year" by the New Oxford American Dictionary. When I asked Gerdes - who was, yes, answering from the highway - for his reaction to this honor, he said "I was very pleased and a little humbled, because yeah, that's my baby, but I never expected to get a dictionary entry from it."

It's encouraging, he says, because "even as gas prices are low there are still plenty of important reasons to do this [hypermiling] other than the cost of fuel." And what Gerdes found more inspiring than the New Oxford American's stamp of lexicographic approval is that "now that people are becoming aware of hypermiling, they're also starting to take this approach to other parts of their lifestyle - their homes, their eating habits, you name it."

Before he got off the phone, Gerdes mentioned they (there are three hypermilers in the car) had completed 16 states so far out of the 48, having just come through snow in the mountains of Vermont, and were still hovering close to 69 miles per gallon. They'll need to keep it from dropping too far to beat the existing record, set by those Aussies, of 58.82 MPG. You can keep up with this world-record attempt at CleanMPG.com, where Wayne Gerdes is filing daily, or almost daily, dispatches of the trip. And starting now, when you tell your friends about this amazing feat, you can call it what it is: Hypermiling.

About this blog
Earth to Philly is a weblog focusing on earth-conscious technology, trends and ideas, from a Daily News perspective. We look at the "green" aspects of your home, business, food, transportation, style, policy, gadgets and artwork. If you have a Philly-related story, Click here to let us know about it!

The experts at Philadelphia's Energy Coordinating Agency answer your energy questions in our regular feature Stay Warm, Stay Green. Send in your question or questions to energy@phillynews.com.


Look for Jenice Armstrong to supply tips on green living as well as occasional columns on the subject of Green. She also blogs at Hey Jen.


Becky Batcha stays tuned for the here-and-now practical side of conservation, alternative energy, organic foods, etc. - stuff you can do at home now. Plus odds and ends.


Laurie Conrad recycles from her ever-growing e-mailbag to pass along the latest travel deals, fashion statements, household strategies, gadgets, cool local events and other nuggets of interest to those who appreciate a clean, green world.


Vance Lehmkuhl looks at topics like eco-conscious eating, public transportation and fuel-efficient driving from his perspective as a vegetarian, a daily SEPTA bus rider and a hybrid driver, as well as noting the occasional wacky trend or product. Contact Vance with your 'green' news.


Ronnie Polaneczky sees the green movement through the eyes of her 12-year-old daughter, who calls her on every scrap of paper or glass bottle that Ronnie neglects to toss into the house recycling bins. Ronnie will blog about new or unexpected ways to go green. She also blogs at So, What Happened Was...


Sandra Shea and the DN editorial board opine on any green-related legislation or policy. And we'll pass along some of the opeds on the subject that people send us.


Jonathan Takiff will be blogging mainly about consumer electronics - those things that we love to use and that suck too much energy. He'll spotlight green-conscious gizmos made in a responsible fashion, both in terms of materials used and the energy it takes to run them.


Signe Wilkinson draws the comic strip Family Tree, which follows the Tree family as they try to live green in the face of nattering neighbors, plastic-wrapped consumer products, and the primal teenage urge to spend vast quantities of money on hair care products of dubious organic quality.


In addition to these updates from our newsroom bloggers, watch for an occasional feature, Dumpster Diver Dispatches, from Philadelphia's original "green" community of artists, the Dumpster Divers. You'll learn about creative ways to reuse and recycle while you reduce, and about the artists who are making little masterpieces from what others throw out.

  • Dispatch #1: Margaret Giancola's rugs from plastic bags
  • Dispatch #2: Dumpster Divers in City Hall (Art in City Hall series)
  • Dispatch #3: Wild wood, New Jersey
  • Dispatch #4: Dumpster Divers award winners announced
  • Dispatch #5: From sweaters to colorful cuddling
  • Dispatch #6: Green artists retake South Street Sunday
  • Dispatch #7: Isaiah Zagar: He's a Magic (Gardens) Man





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