In the Chamber -- Grant Mitchell's Blog

Hypermiling

Posted 6/24/2008 by Grant Mitchell

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The climate change crisis and the rising cost of gasoline have spawned a new word, Hypermiling. It refers to a range of techniques that reduce gas mileage for those who have the discipline and commitment to use them. The techniques include:

Driving slower, at least within speed limits. 

Accelerating slowly from stops. I have a fuel utilization gauge on my car and it is startling to see the high demand for fuel when you start out compared to the much lower demand when you are cruising.

Avoiding stopping as much as possible because it takes less energy to keep the momentum of your vehicle than it does to regain your cruising speed and because you get no kilometers per litre when you are sitting at a red light. This is tricky, but the procedure is to take your foot off the gas pedal when you see the cars in front of you break, you see a red light, or you anticipate that a green light in the distance is “maturing” and will change soon.

Drafting behind the vehicle in front of you is said to be a useful technique too, but it seems to me to be potentially dangerous depending on how close you have to be to get the benefits of the draft. I would not recommend it for that reason. But perhaps in time we will get some information on how far behind the vehicle in front works for drafting and hopefully it is will be proven to be in accordance with safe driving rules.

I know for a fact as an avid triathlete-bicycler that drafting is very effective. Apparently, studies of bicycle drafting demonstrate that the wind resistance in total is the same for one rider as it is for two when the second one in following closely behind the first. That is why Lance Armstrong always rode behind teammates until the latter stages of each race. He conserved considerable amounts of energy for the last push to the finish line. It is also why the Tour de France is a team sport.

So much of made of the cost of dealing with climate change. I would argue that the costs of not dealing with are far greater and in fact can be devastating.

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