A nice story from Mother Jones this month on “hypermilers,” people who use all kinds of wacky techniques to maximize fuel economy:
He starts the truck–well, gets it rolling–by releasing the emergency brake and putting the gearshift in neutral before jumping out and pushing the 3,330-pound vehicle down his sloping driveway with the engine off. He jumps in and, without braking, turns right, swerves around a dead skunk in the road, and then takes a left turn–again without braking–to a stop sign. Ahead, the light is red. “This is a long light,” he says. “I’m screwed. We have to throw it away.” “Throw it away” is the phrase Wayne uses to describe what most of us do with gasoline. We throw gas away when we accelerate fast, when we turn on the air conditioning, when we leave heavy stuff in the trunk, when we drive with a roof rack, when we don’t change the oil, when we underinflate our tires, when we roll down the windows, when we speed, when we brake, or when we idle. Wayne might seem a radical at times, but he’s really a conservative: He doesn’t want to throw anything away.
I don’t know about riding around with the a/c off and the windows closed in the middle of the Iowa summer with my two-year old in the backseat, but I could stand to employ a few other of these methods to reduce the fuel consumption of my handed-down-from-grandma, grad-student-budget-friendly, gas-hog V-6 Mercury Sable.