‘Hyper-milers’ maximize fuel efficiency in Yukon

As the price at the pumps slowly creeps ever upward, "hyper-milers" like Simone Kitchen in Whitehorse are doing all they can to maximize fuel efficiency.

'It's in the nature of a game with myself, really,' says hyper-miler Lawrence Purdy

Lawrence Purdy gets in his new Toyota Yaris. He recently bought this car, in part because it's fuel efficient, but he's been hyper-miling with older vehicles for years. (CBC)

As the price at the pumps creeps ever upward, a growing subculture of "hyper-milers" are trying to get the most from their fuel by paying obsessive attention to economical driving.

“It's in the nature of a game with myself, really,” says Lawrence Purdy of Whitehorse.

Purdy plays the game every time he gets behind the wheel and says he saves hundreds of dollars a year on gas.

Hyper-milers take every opportunity to preserve momentum, such as coasting down hills in neutral — anything to save gas.

“Although it pains me to do it,' he says, 'I do stop at the stop signs and make sure that I can proceed safely.”

Hyper-miler Simone Kitchen of Whitehorse was part of a team that drove across Canada from Halifax to Vancouver in 2012 on less than five tanks of gas. (CBC)

In 2012, Simone Kitchen was part of a team that drove across Canada from Halifax to Vancouver in a 2012 Volkswagen Passat on less than five tanks of gas.

She says it's all about technique.

“Definitely the two main ones are braking slower and accelerating slower. Those are the kind of ones you can use every day. And then there's ones about the air conditioner: trying to keep that off, keeping your windows up.”

Purdy suggests maintaining correct tire pressure — "You reduce your rolling resistance and that improves your fuel economy" — and not carrying anything you don’t need, to keep weight at a minimum.

“Gasoline is heavy, so if you don't need a full tank of gas, why would you fill up and carry all that extra fuel around?” Purdy asks.

He says reducing the weight of a car by 10 per cent can improve fuel economy by six per cent.

Lawrence Purdy on saving fuel: 'It's in the nature of a game with myself, really.' (CBC)
He also suggests watching your speed. 

"Getting up to speed takes a tremendous amount of fuel and any increase in your speed uses more again." 

Purdy's car, a recently purchased Toyota Yaris, has a fuel efficiency tracker. He keeps tabs on how little gas he uses, and figures he saves about 20 per cent.

“So far this is my record ... this is going from here, from home down to a meeting at the old fire hall, now that's mostly downhill. But that was 3.1 litres per 100 kilometres,” he says.

Purdy says hyper-miling isn’t hard, it’s environmentally friendly, and it saves a bit of cash.

Kitchen says anybody can do it. 

"It's just a question of taking the next step and learning how to do it and really putting the effort in."

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