Going Greener by Keeping Score

It’s human nature to turn anything involving numbers that can be tracked into a competition. Even “going green” can become a race of sorts as drivers attempt to maximize the fuel efficiency of their automobiles. There are even “hypermiling contests” where drivers use combinations of technology and driving techniques on selected courses to see who can achieve the highest miles per gallon rating with their vehicles.

Of course, you don’t have to go to extremes to see the benefits of fuel savings behind the wheel thanks to some basic tips and tech that you can apply to your everyday car.

The most often quoted tip is to make sure your vehicle is well maintained. A tuned engine will burn the fuel you give it more efficiently, while ties inflated to their correct air pressure will reduce the work needed to keep your car rolling down the highway.

Of course, you’ll need to be able to measure how much fuel you’re saving with that maintenance, which you can do if you with many smartphones apps. These apps allow you to enter in the amount of gas you filled up your tank with, along with how many miles since the last fill up, and calculate your current miles per gallon (or even Liters per 100km). They also keep a log of your previous trips so you can see how much (or little) you’re improving over time.

Other techniques involve changing the way you drive to get where you want to go more efficiently. It’s true that driving too fast can cut into your fuel efficiency due to the increased air resistance. However, it’s also true that driving too slow can mean an equal loss due to the increased amount of time your engine is running while getting to your destination.

This is where new GPS units really start to shine. Not only can current GPS devices route you based on the shortest distance or the least drive time, but many also have “eco routing” features that take into consideration both calculations, along with other factors such as the braking and acceleration involved with having more intersections along a shorter route, versus a more straight-through longer distance. In most units, you can even enter the price of the gas you recently purchased and have the unit read your trip back in estimated time, distance and cost to get there.

Going green with your automobile doesn’t have to be quite the competition some make it out to be, but to really improve your actual dollar savings, sometimes it helps to have the tech to keep score.

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