Sunday, November 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

More tips for greener driving

Above all, avoid the use of the brakes and employ coasting liberally. For that, of course, you need to maintain a good distance between you and the car in front of you. And someone always wants to jump into the opening, but it can be done.

More tips for greener driving

Want to get better mileage?

In this morning's column, I offered a few ways to game the oil companies and keep your money in your pocket instead of theirs.  Which is also a way to save fuel and be a greener driver.

Do a google search for hypermiling, and you can find all sorts of additional tips.

Here are some of the ones I like:

— Above all, avoid the use of the brakes and employ coasting liberally. For that, of course, you need to maintain a good distance between you and the car in front of you. And someone always wants to jump into the opening, but it can be done.

According to one hypermiling website, drivers apply their brakes between 10 and 25 percent more time than they need to.

— Likewise, any time you see a red traffic signal or a brake light, lift your foot from the gas. Coast to the intersection.

— Know your route. I use a couple regularly that have big uphill stretches, followed by big downhill stretches. On some of them, I know the exact telephone pole -- still on the uphill side -- where I can take my foot off the gas, make it over the crest easily and then pick up speed while I coast down the other side.

— About cruise control. Some people say this helps save milieage because it often accellerates more slowly. But I find that I can manage much better without it, even on a highway such as Route 422. I can ease off the accelerator as I near or crest a hill -- not dramatically, this is in high-speed traffic after all -- and coast or accelerate slowly on the downhill side.

— Avoid drive-through windows. You’ll sit there wasting gas while the car is idling.

— “Bundle” your errands, making one longer trip instead of a multitude of shorter ones. Drive first to the destination that’s farthest away so your car warms up. Then, as you work your way back, the shorter-distance stops and starts won’t use as much fuel.

— Air-conditioning on or windows open? I don’t have a firm figure here, but the general wisdom is that at higher speeds, the drag caused by having one or more windows open uses more fuel than running the air-conditioning. Best of all, use the flow-through ventilation.

Green driving apps are now beginning to make their entrance.

EcoSpeed is due out in about a month, but you can take it for a test drive online. I entered my home and work addresses, and it took me a route that was 40.8 miles. If I drove the fastest (according to speed limit restrictions, apparently), it would take me 53 minutes. If I drove more slowly during different segments, it would take me eight minutes more — 1 hour and 1 minute — but I’d realize a 19 percent savings in the fuel cost.

I think you’d need a co-pilot to use this app. It would be too much to look at if you were actually driving. But I can imagine a teenager getting a kick out of this.

Green Driver is a routing app that uses real-time traffic light information to help you avoid red lights.

The Earthgarage website has lots more info.

As does the Department of Energy’s efficient driving site, www.fueleconomy.gov.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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