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Conservation tip: fuel efficiency advice from the clinically insane

This is a driving competition we can behind. Mother Jones reports on hypermilers, mileage-obsessed drivers who can squeeze 180 mpg out of their hybrids by, well, breaking every traffic and safety law on record.

Their hero is Wayne Gerdes, the man who wears the current Most Fuel-Efficient Driver in the World crown. Wayne is…a little eccentric. One of his secret weapons, for example, is his “ice vest,” a device that needs for his work in a nuclear power plant. The ice vest allows him to stay cool even as he rides around on humid summer days with the air conditioner off and the windows rolled up.

Wayne’s tendencies run in the family — his dad has written down his mileage from every gallon of gas for the last 50 years — but it was the purchase of a vehicle with a fuel consumption device (FCD) that truly ignited Wayne’s passion.

If people could see how much fuel they guzzled while driving, Wayne believes they’d quickly learn to drive more efficiently. “If the EPA would mandate FCDs in every car, this country would save 20 percent on fuel overnight,” he says. “They’re not expensive for the manufacturers to put in — 10 to 20 bucks — and it would save more fuel than all the laws passed in the last 25 years. All from a simple display.”

Wayne’s a dreamer. He’s also curiously monomaniacal. One of the more discordant aspects of the article is that Wayne owns the largest flat-screen TV the author has “ever seen outside of a sports bar,” which alone is probably responsible for more carbon emissions than his driving.

But global warming isn’t Wayne’s bag. He’s concerned about energy security, and since his electricity probably comes from coal or — more likely, given his job — nuclear energy, the TV is mostly a nice way to unwind after a day of drafting behind semis with the engine off or taking exit ramps at 50 miles per hour.

Take the first step.

Start small. Be conscious of the impact your actions have on the environment and figure out what you can do to lessen the blow. Calculate, conserve, and offset.

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