“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” - Often attributed to Plato but likely from Ian McLaren (pseudonym of Reverend John Watson)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Goal

I'd like to welcome myself to the world of blogging. I have a hard time with the term "blogos.....," maybe in time I'll come to accept it.

The intent of the blog, in the beginning, will be to document my efforts to minimize my use of energy, particularly auto gas. I drive a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with a 235 horsepower V8.

Until August of 2005, I drove it like I used to drive my 1970 Roadrunner in high school, that is, as fast as traffic would allow (and sometimes faster). As for acceleration, I used to say "I don't need an accelerator pedal, I just need a switch." It was full throttle all the time. The Jeep is equipped with a display of "average mileage" and "instant mileage." As nearly as I can tell, the average represents mileage over the last several tanks - maybe 4000 or 5000 miles. It can't be from 0 on the odometer - it changes too quickly for that. Or so I think.

In any case, at the start of my experiment, the average m.p.g. was 14.9, reflecting my extreme driving habits (according to the E.P.A. the car is rated for 15 m.p.g. city, 20 m.p.g. highway).

In August of last year, as gas prices in the Los Angeles area approached $3.00 per gallon, I started toward the opposite extreme of driving, incorporating snail-like acceleration, coasting down hills in neutral, shutting the engine off at long stops, cruise-controlled 55 m.p.h. and attempts to look ahead and put the car in neutral to coast to a stop for traffic, etc. The brake pedal became my enemy, I pictured burning gasoline to heat chunks of metal. I filled my tires to 2 p.s.i. over the maximum rating (don't try this at home).

My current average is 22.5 m.p.g., a 51% increase. I estimate that I have saved approximately 350 gallons of fuel. Obviously, someone starting from a more normal driving technique could not expect as great an improvement. But even for someone getting average mileage consistent with the EPA estimate, say 18 m.p.g., which many do not achieve, a 25% improvement would be possible. Again, most would not take it to the other extreme as I have, but a 15% improvement would seem to be easily achievable.

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