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Hypermiling anyone?

Posted by admin on Jul 2nd, 2008
Jul 2

Something I’ve been reading a lot about lately is something called hypermiling. Hypermiling is essentially the art of maintaining a vehicle and driving that vehicle in the most efficient standards. For example, the tires on my car have a maximum pressure of 44 psi. I used to inflate them to about 35 psi – a number I’m not certain how I came about – but have recently inflated them to their max pressure. This will help to reduce the rolling resistance and should increase fuel economy by approximately 10% (according to most articles I’ve read).

I’m also coasting a lot more. I’ve found that my car, even uphill, maintains a pretty steady rate of speed when coasting. This means that I can lay off the gas several blocks before I need to stop which saves a lot of gas on rural streets. On a flat, straight road I’ve let off the gas as far away as 1/8th of a mile before I needed to stop and I hadn’t even dropped 5 mph by the time I got to the stop light/sign! I bet that I could coast for a total of as much as a mile on my 12 mile commute to work.

If what I’ve read is true then these two practices could increase my MPG by as much as 3 miles per gallon. That’s a lot! I usually get an abysmal 17mpg in the car (2007 Dodge Charger) so 20mpg would be a great start to lowering my transportation footprint. I’m really curious to find out just how much of a difference it is going to make. I’ll report back in a week or two to update on the results, and possibly with some additional tips.

Can I take my garage off the grid?

Posted by admin on Jul 1st, 2008
Jul 1

I can’t put up a windmill, solar is still too expensive, I don’t have a creek or a river flowing through my backyard so what else is left? I did what any sane enviro-pioneer does in such a situation – I’m building my own electricity generating stationary bike. Granted, it won’t be enough to sustain my garages independence, but it will help to suppliment what it is consuming, as well as help with my center of gravity (i.e. the middle-management waistline).

One thing I seem to have more than enough of is bicycles. It’s about a 2 to 1 ratio – three people in the house and (I think) six bikes. Some we ride and some are probably only good for parts. I do have the skeleton of a previous attempt at a stationary bike contraption using an automotive alternator, but that didn’t work out so well. Either I didn’t wire the regulator correctly or I wasn’t turning the alternator fast enough, but it never really seemed to generate much and there wasn’t any resistance, so I may as well have been sitting in a chair spinning my legs frantically – it would have looked just about as crazy. If I peddled as fast as I could then I *might* get the voltmeter up to around 10volts of output. Great exercise program, but very frustrating.

This time, with new inspiration and a new vigor, I went to my local electronics junk yard and picked up a 200 watt 12v motor. It is in excellent shape and I only paid $20 for it. I then went online to Tractor Supply and ordered a v-idler pulley and an 82″ v-belt (for a lawn tractor), along with an ammeter to view my real-time peddle progress. That all came to just under $29, so I’m up to about $50 total now. I suppose I didn’t need the ammeter…. I’m still waiting for those to be delivered, so in the mean time I have to build a “structure” to hold up and stabilize the back of the bike, like a training stand or something. I’m not quite sure what to do about that yet but I’ll get it figured out.

I’ll be back next week with an update and pictures of the progress.

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