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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ecodriving Made Easy

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Even if you don’t have an alt-fuel car, you can try “EcoDriving,” a term coined by gas-strapped Europeans that means “to drive a vehicle in the most fuel-efficient manner possible, to save fuel and to lower emissions.” In some EU countries, EcoDriving proficiency is required for a driver’s license, and applies to any vehicle—automatic or manual, gas or diesel, old or new, hybrid or conventional.

Besides reducing oil consumption and exhaust, EcoDriving can also reduce your gas bill by up to 30%, turning $3.40-a-gallon gas into the equivalent of $2.38 per gallon. The Milwaukee Hybrid Group, which promotes EcoDriving on its Web site and at its meetings, offers these tips: Maintain momentum by anticipating red lights and stop signs and avoiding unnecessary braking and sudden increases in speed. Avoid speeds above 55 mph and maintain steady speed at all times. Each 5 mph above 55 mph is like paying 15 cents per gallon more for gas.

Aggressive driving wastes gas, particularly at highway speeds, but also around town. It can add an extra 22 cents to $1.50 more per gallon. Remove extra weight from the vehicle. Remove roof racks, flags or other exterior objects when not in use.

The worst mileage and greatest emissions will occur in the first five minutes to 5 miles of driving on a cold engine. Instead of idling your vehicle after startup, just drive off slowly. Avoid idling for more than one minute. Restarting your car adds only $10 per year in operating costs while reducing emissions and engine wear.

Inflate and constantly maintain tire pressure to the maximum sidewall PSI on the tire. This can save you as much as 15 cents per gallon at today’s gas prices. Invest in regular tuneups to maintain engine efficiency for gas savings of 15 cents to $1.30 per gallon.

Plan your trips to avoid congestion and minimize unnecessary driving. Combine trips, going to the farthest destination first and then coming back home; short trips from a cold start use twice as much fuel. Leave space between you and other vehicles so that you have more options in variable driving conditions.

Avoid complete stops when possible. Anticipate intersection traffic to avoid coming to a complete stop. Look for face-out parking to avoid using reverse gear. Face toward the sun in winter to take advantage of solar heating. Use air conditioning only when necessary and do not open the car windows completely.

Use cruise control only at highway speeds and on level roads; avoid use in hilly terrain.

Source: www.milwaukeehybridgroup.com