Hypermiling: 10 ways to drive more fuel efficiently

First things first: what is hypermiling? Hypermiling or ‘eco-driving’ is a form of driving that maximises fuel efficiency. It’s all about getting the most bang for your buck: by employing various energy-efficient techniques to minimise fuel consumption, you can get more miles out of your car and reduce emissions at the same time. These methods are often used with electric vehicles where drivers want to get the maximum out of their battery and exceed their vehicle manufacturers’ stated efficiency.

We have put together 10 top tips that will help drive more fuel efficiently in 2021 while saving money – and the planet.

1. Plan your route

Start off by asking yourself: can I do this journey on foot or by bike? If the answer is yes, scrap the car altogether. Short journeys use way more fuel than longer ones as some cars can take up to 8km before the engine is running at maximum efficiency, so if you can, opt out of turning on that engine at all. If you do need a vehicle to get from A to B, plan ahead to avoid traffic and interrupted routes. The less congested your journey, the more you can maintain momentum and save fuel by not stopping and starting repeatedly. One round trip is better than several short trips and remember to go to your furthest destination first to give your car a chance to warm up.

2. Get regular checks

The more well maintained your car is, the better your efficient driving will be. With regular servicing you can make sure your engine is clean and you have enough pressure in your tyres to enable a smoother ride. You may also consider opting for low viscosity or thinner oil, which can increase your miles per gallon as it requires less energy to turn the engine.

3. Take a load off

For every 45kg of weight removed from your car, you can save 1% on fuel. Make sure you’re not carrying around any unnecessary excess weight like prams or tools and take down roof racks or bike racks when they are not in use, as they cause drag.

4. Drive proactively

This will require more concentration but proactive driving can drastically reduce your fuel consumption. By anticipating the road ahead and being aware of changes taking place around you, you can avoid excessive braking or hard acceleration.

5. Maximise your parking

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the act of parking itself can make a big difference on your fuel consumption. It’s no secret that forward facing parking spots are the envy of all but this ‘face out’ parking direction will enable you to quickly start up and drive off without wasting fuel on elusive maneuvers. If it’s cold out, opt for a parking spot that faces the sun to help defrost your windows. In summer, try and find parking in the shade to avoid a big AC boost when it's time to drive.

6. Drive without brakes

Excessive braking can quickly reduce your gas mileage, especially at motorway speeds. Every time you brake, your fuel is turned into heat and your acceleration will require more energy to get going again. Cruise control and careful coasting can maximise your car’s momentum and prevent frequent braking.

7. Slow down

It may not be as fun, but slower driving can actually increase your miles per gallon as a faster car causes more resistance. According to the Energy Savings Trust, the most efficient speed to travel at is 55-65mph. Any faster, and your fuel efficiency will decrease rapidly.

8. Turn it off

There’s a lot of debate around whether or not it is more fuel efficient to turn off your engine when you are stuck in traffic or to leave the car running but the 10 second rule seems to be fairly standard. If you are motionless for any longer than 10 seconds, it is more fuel efficient to switch off your engine than to sit idle. 10 seconds or longer without movement is a waste of fuel and you will run the risk of overheating your engine.

9. Be clever with your AC

There are two ways to keep your car cool: air conditioning and open windows. You can be energy efficient by switching between the two depending on your circumstance. Air conditioners consume a lot of energy which will eat into your fuel consumption but open windows can cause aerodynamic drag, which can also reduce efficiency – but only at high speeds. If you are driving at less than 40mph, an open window won’t drastically affect your fuel use – if you’re going any faster (45mph+), your air conditioner will typically be more efficient.

10. Pay attention to your shoes

Hypermiling is all about being in tune with your car and understanding what it takes for it to drive at its very best. The thicker your sole, the more you will lose that sensitivity: being able to carefully control your brakes and acceleration are key to eco-driving so opt for something other than thick winter boots or Dr Martens next time you go for a drive.