Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Episode 6: Energy Self Sufficiency - Part 3 Hypermiling Essentials

Welcome to the Be Prepared Channel. Today we focus on Part 3 of the 3 part series on Hypermiling. If your unfamiliar with Hypermiling please go back and check out parts 1 and 2 to this series. Today we get into the Hypermiling essentials. Things to know that will help you get and track the best results when Hypermiling. I hope you enjoy this episode.

Episode 6 - Energy Self Sufficiency - Hypermiling Essentials Podcast:

Fuel types and things to know:

  • Diesel is 20-30% more efficient than gasoline, and diesels that have been made for the last decade have been a far cry improvement over diesels of the 70's and 80's during the fuel crisis. They are a pleasure to drive, and they return great fuel economy.
  • While I enjoy the fuel economy of the diesels I have to mention the cons also. Today our choices for diesel in cars boils down to Volkswagen. VW quality, and reliability leave a lot to be desired. They are more expensive to own than other more popular brands, so there is a trade off to get the diesel. If not for the diesel I would not own a VW... When will other manufacturers get the clue to give us some really great little diesels?

Winter Fuel and Ethanol:
  • Ethanol will get you lower fuel economy, 1-3% less economy than standard fuel. Winter formulations across most of the US has ethanol blends of 10-15% which doe impact fuel economy. You will notice lower MPG numbers in the winter for a variety of reasons and this is one of them.
  • For the prepper who wants to buy and store some fuel for a "rainy day", these winter formulations are reported to be more stable for longer term storage. So if you want to set some fuel back for such an occasion winter fuel is the best. Don't forget to add Stabil or some other fuel stablizer to you fuel to extend the storage life.
  • E85 is not a good fuel, and many studies are showing that ethanol production is hurting world food supplies and is doing more harm than good. Your mileage will be less with E85 as alcohol is lower energy density fuel.

Purchasing fuel:
  • Find a station that you will purchase fuel regularly
  • Try to use the same pump if possible at this gas station to get similar results with your fueling.
  • Try to fill up to the same place in the tank, so if you fuel until the pump clicks then do that each time. If you have the ability to fuel up to a point you can visually see each time that is even better to ensure equal results when tracking your mileage.
  • Buy your fuel early in the morning, when fuel is colder, colder fuel is more dense and you get more fuel for your money.
  • Gasoline expands and contracts up to 6% by volume as it gets warmer and colder.
  • Diesel expands/contracts very little, 1% or less by volume based on temperature so it isn't quite as critical with diesel, but still a good idea to fuel up when fuel is colder.

Weather considerations:
  • Colder weather hurts fuel economy, air is more dense and provides more resistance, and the denser air is detected by the mass airflow sensor which causes the computer to richen the fuel.
  • Rain, snow provide resistance and can hurt fuel economy.
  • Winter time fuel in many parts of the country is reformulated with ethanol which also hurts fuel economy.
  • During winter months many people will start their cars/trucks in advance of leaving and let the vehicles warm up before leaving, this hurts fuel economy significantly. Best practice is to start the vehicle, let it run for 30-60 seconds and then leave.

Lies, dang lies, and statistics:
  • Keep a log of your fuel stops, keep a notepad in your vehicle and write down the numbers as soon as you fuel. Otherwise you will forget.
  • Don't trust the computer in your car to give you accurate numbers, always get the numbers from your trip meter, and divide that by the number of gallons you just put into the car to get a better figure of the real fuel economy.
  • By tracking in a log or spread sheet you can easily see the highs and lows seasonally, and you can annotate a little about your driving that tank of fuel so that you might understand why it was higher or lower a given tank.

Consider your routes:
  • Consider your routes when driving, sometimes the shortest distance isn't the most fuel efficient on.
  • Look at the number of hills, traffic lights, or traffic patterns that might impede your travel and cost you additional fuel.
  • Check various routes on your routine commute to see if there isn't a smarter ways to go that could save you wear and tear, and fuel.

Vehicle choices:
  • Carefully choose your vehicles based on fuel economy and versatility for your daily needs.
  • Use a site like to help compare vehicles fuel economy.
  • Manual transmissions are better suited for hypermiling and getting good fuel economy.
  • Something to consider is a vehicle that is certified flex fuel so that you have more fuel options if the SHTF and fuel becomes scare. A flex fuel vehicle might be able to use ethanol blends when other cars will not be able to do so for long.
  • Vehicles are a poor "investment" and loose a lot of value, so don't get into debt to buy a vehicle. Debt is cancer, so shop around for something you can buy with the cash you have on hand.
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