Christopher Palmeri Writes a Stupid Column on Fuel Economy

This may be the stupidest piece of reporting I’ve read all week. Christopher Palmeri of BusinessWeek online wrote a column reporting on a study done by Edmunds on how you can improve your gas mileage / fuel economy. Which tips make a difference, and which do not?

How to Ease the Pain at the Pump – Yahoo! News
What can you do to ease the pinch? Start by forgetting almost everything you think you know about saving gasoline. Philip Reed, the senior consumer advice editor at car-shopping site, and some of his colleagues went out to the California desert to put to the test ways consumers can save money at the pump. Their results are both surprising and helpful, as gas prices head to the stratosphere.

Sounds like an interesting read, right? Well, that is until you read Palmeri’s take on things, which make it sound like the only thing you can do to improve your fuel economy is to avoid drag racing between stop lights. Apparently, he didn’t bother reading the entire one page report that stated using cruise control or averaging slower speeds on the highway also significantly improve fuel economy.

Additionally, he fails to mention that Edmunds has other reports on their site that cite actual studies by the US Department of Energy showing signficant gas mileage improvements from:

1. Regular Maintenence: 10% improvement
2. Tires inflated: 3.3% improvement (or, should we trust two guys in the desert’s report over the DOE?)
3. Removing excess weight: 1-2%
4. Don’t Drive Agressively: 7% (the one mentioned)
5. Use highest geat possible.
6. Use Cruise Control: Mentioned in report Palmeri cites, but failed to mention.
7. Keep Car Clean: 7%
8. Avoid Idling: (the other one mentioned)
9. Avoid air conditioning at low speeds (Palmeri dismissed this one)
10. Combine Your Errands: Too obvious to mention?

Maybe the study Palmeri cited wasn’t precise enough to measure a 1-2% difference? It clearly takes energy to move mass. Who doesn’t understand this? Just think how much energy we could save if President Bush went on prime time television and said, “I ask all of you to go to your cars and take out all the crap you don’t need.” That’s a LOT of crap, translating to a LOT of energy savings.

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