Consumer tip-of-the-day: increasing efficiency of fuel economy on a miles-per-gallon scale is not linear, as more miles-per-gallon (mpg) are initially better for your wallet and the planet than you might expect, and eventually trail off with diminishing returns.
Ultimately, this is all basic math, but as Nest seems to show, how you present information is often as important as what that information is in the first place. Another example is EPA’s on-going effort to convey how much you will save by buying a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). It’s quite an ambitious effort considering it is unclear how much you will drive in electric-versus-gasoline/diesel mode, but still: you have to start somewhere.
So next time you’re in the market for a new car, remember that the differences in fuel economy might be deceiving. For example, 22 mpg versus 20 mpg is not equal to a 10% increase in efficiency; in fact, you might be saving more than you think. Now multiply that out by the US light-duty vehicle fleet of 96.6 million, and you’ll see why initial fuel economy improvements are essential to reducing energy use in the US.
UPDATE: As suggested by reader Daniel Kolomeets-Darovsky, I’ve here included a fuel economy calculator which allows for quick-and-easy comparisons: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/savemoney.shtml
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