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The Green Life: Ask Mr. Green: How to Hypermile a Hybrid

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June 12, 2013

Ask Mr. Green: How to Hypermile a Hybrid

Ask Mr. GreenHey Mr. Green,

I just bought a hybrid car. Is there a way to adjust my driving style to make the most of this vehicle’s fuel-saving potential?  

—Ramona in Crownsville, Maryland

Let your Prius (or Volt or Fusion) be your nag: Watch the miles-per-gallon numbers on the dashboard and experiment to get ’em higher.

Otherwise, hybrid drivers can save gas by practicing the same sensible driving habits as everyone else. Here are the main tenets every driver should follow, as set forth by the EPA experts at fueleconomy.­gov:

1. Chill out: Avoid rapid acceleration and road rage, which can lower your fuel efficiency by up to 33%.

2. Slow down: Increasing your speed from 70 to 80 miles per hour can reduce fuel efficiency by 5 miles per gallon.

3. Maintain: Keep your engine tuned up and tires inflated to recommended levels.

4. Shed weight: Every extra 100 pounds knocks up to 2% off gas mileage.

5. Don’t idle: Idling in line at fast-food joints alone wastes 50 million gallons of gas each year.

The Obama administration has mandated a dramatic increase in fuel economy for new cars: 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. But bonehead driving and lousy maintenance could wipe away nearly half that gain.

Google “hypermiling” for more tips (not all of which seem legal). And to avoid being driven to dangerous distraction, try just a few at a time. —Bob Schildgen

Got an eco-question? Ask Mr. Green!

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