The thrill of the game has always been my biggest push to get better fuel economy.
Sure, I got into it because I'm a conservationist, but I stayed because it's fun. And I'm not alone; a great many of those people getting amazing fuel economy are doing it to compete with their peers.
In Japan it's called nenpi mania and it's dominated by people with Prii [plural of Prius] and kei (small) cars. In the U.S. it's called hypermiling or ecomodding, depending on whether you focus more on changing your driving or your car. For me it's a bit of both.
The first tip most fuel economy nuts will give you is to start tracking your mileage. Once you see exactly how much gas you're actually using, you start to get serious. From there it's a short step to instantaneous feedback. With a device like a Scangauge II you can see the fuel economy you're getting at that exact moment. It's also possible to track your tank, compare commutes one day to the next, and see how things like throttle pressure and air temperature affect your mileage.
Starting to see how this can get addictive? That's why so many hypermilers have been able to push the envelope as far as 150-MPG trips and 100+ MPG tanks. If it weren't for this growing sense of competition to be the best, who knows if people would be posting such amazing numbers.
Now, how does this apply to the average person? For my case, I'm not too nuts with my driving, but I've done my best to put together a fuel-efficient car, and I absolutely hate to see my fuel economy drop below 50 MPG. So start watching, keep a log, use an online tool, or go out and buy a Scangauge.
Nothing is better than a constant reminder that you're burning fossil fuels. In fact, you may be surprised to find out how much gas you're burning every time you take a trip to the store or visit a friend. Remember: knowledge is power.
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