Get More Kilometres Out of Every Litre of Gas

Have you heard about the egg trick, a simple way you can lower your gas bills and reduce the environmental impact of your driving?

Let’s back up for a second. For a typical Canadian, driving represents a huge part of our “carbon footprint”, or effect on the planet. It’s also one of our biggest expenses, and getting bigger as gas prices rise. But there’s a simple way most drivers can squeeze 10-20% more distance out of every litre of gas.

Just imagine you have an egg taped under the toes of your right foot when you drive, and it’s your goal to get where you’re going without breaking the egg.

The egg trick - driving with a gentle foot - doesn’t mean driving slow, and it doesn’t mean doing anything that is hazardous to yourself or other drivers. It just means treating your gas and brake pedals a little differently.

Sitting at a stoplight? Resist the urge to “tramp on it” when the light turns green. “Tramping on it” just feeds your engine a lot of fuel it can’t use, and that fuel ends up going out the exhaust pipe wasted. (Ever notice how you can smell the exhaust of cars that blow by you on the highway? That’s the smell of unburnt fuel and wasted money.)

Instead, just put easy pressure on the gas and let your vehicle accelerate smoothly. It won’t take much practice for you to find the ‘sweet spot’ of your gas pedal, the point where the fuel you feed the engine matches its ability to speed up your vehicle. Since speeding up uses more fuel than any other part of your drive, there’s great potential to save by accelerating smoothly and gently.

The other half of the equation is avoiding sudden stops. You’ve paid to get up to speed, so it makes sense to let that speed carry you as far as possible. If you anticipate your stops and ease off the gas sooner, you’ll be amazed at how far your speed will carry you for free. If you drive a standard, you can actually coast. And often that red light will turn to green as you approach, since lights in many cities are synchronized to make for smooth, steady traffic flow.

The egg trick extends to highway driving too. “Tramping on it” to pass aggressively makes your engine guzzle. The same goes for climbing up a hill quickly. If road and traffic conditions permit, you can save a lot by allowing your vehicle to slow down a bit as it climbs – and then you can take advantage of the other side of the hill to pick up speed. My route to town has several “free kilometres”, where it’s possible to coast for a stretch without slowing down or disrupting traffic.

Cruise control? A great thing if you are driving on the Prairies. But on most NB roads, you can get better mileage by turning off the cruise and strapping on your egg. Cruise control tends to smash its egg at the first hill it reaches.

If you’re looking for an easy way to reduce your personal impact on the planet and save a few dollars while you’re at it, why not start here. Imagine an egg under your foot the next time you slide behind the wheel, and see how much you can save.

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Carl Duivenvoorden is one of two Atlantic Canadians trained by Al Gore to deliver live presentations of “An Inconvenient Truth”. He lives in Upper Kingsclear, and can be reached via his website, www.changeyourcorner.com.

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Or phone Carl at 506. 363. 8117 (in Kingsclear, New Brunswick).