Drive More Efficiently


Leave early and don’t rush.

"Jack-rabbit" starts and hard braking alone can increase fuel consumption by 40 percent but reduce travel time by only 4 percent.

Keep it close to 60 mph on the highway.

Highway driving that exceeds 60 miles per hour uses more fuel. According to the U.S. EPA, every 5 miles over the 60 mph level is equivalent to paying 20 extra cents per gallon for gas. Observing the speed limit and not exceeding 60 mph (where legally allowed) can improve mileage by 7-23 percent.

Avoid idling.

With today’s advanced vehicles, turning the engine off and on again is no longer hard on your starter and you no longer need to warm up your engine. An automobile may burn more than half a gallon of fuel for every hour spent idling. Unless you are simply dropping off or picking up someone, make it a habit to turn your engine off when waiting at the curb even if it’s just for a short period, and avoid drive-thrus.

Use AC only at higher speeds.

Air conditioning can reduce mileage significantly, by as much as 20 percent. In fact, your air conditioner can consume up to one gallon of gas per tank to cool the vehicle. But driving with your windows open can produce aerodynamic drag, which reduces fuel economy. What's a driver to do? When driving at slower speeds (less than 40 mph), such as driving in urban areas, open windows are better. At higher speeds (over 40 mph), close the windows and turn on the air conditioner – the AC uses less fuel.

Use cruise control.

Using cruise control on 10,000 miles driven in a year could save you nearly $200 and save more than 60 gallons of fuel, according to the Department of Transportation (assuming $3 a gallon for fuel, 20 MPG, and 15,000 miles driven annually).

Keep on rolling in traffic.

Slow-and-go is always better than stop-and-go, and not just to reduce traffic congestion woes. Maintaining a constant speed in your commute increases fuel economy, because it takes much more energy to move a stopped vehicle than to keep a vehicle moving. In fact, it can take 20 percent more fuel to accelerate from a full stop than from 5 miles per hour. Try to anticipate stops and coast as much as possible.

Attend a driving clinic.

Training sessions may be available in your area to learn more about efficient driving techniques.

Track your fuel consumption.

There’s no better way to realize how much you’re saving than by keeping track of how much fuel you’re using. Save your fuel receipts, and start recording distance travelled and fuel economy (MPG) for each trip. Also record trip type and new techniques employed to monitor your progress. See Ecomodder.com for more information on tracking fuel consumption.

Install and use a fuel consumption display.

Fuel tracking devices are available that allow the driver to track individual trips or portions of trips. Options for vehicles without factory installed fuel economy computers (like in Toyota hybrids) include the ScanGauge and SuperMID.

Combine trips.

Plan ahead so you can get all your errands taken care of in one trip. Go to the furthest destination first, then work your way back.

(Tips compiled from NCDAQ, ecodrivingusa.com, fueleconomy.gov, mass.gov.)