Even if you care enough about energy savings to drive a hybrid, you probably aren’t willing to drive significantly slower in the name of saving gasoline or electricity. But there is an art and science to driving at the precise speed that will make your car the most efficient, if you can find it.
EcoSpeed, a soon-to-be-released smartphone app, calculates the happy medium between the fastest and most energy-efficient driving speed for your gas guzzler. Sure, it adds a couple minutes to your commute, but it also saves precious gas money.
The app, developed by Clarian Labs, claims that it can save drivers 30% on fuel costs with a few clever tricks: giving real-time feedback on your driving efficiency; and calculating the optimal speed to get to your destination (known as your EcoSpeed) based on traffic stops, the speed limit, traffic conditions, your personal driving pattern, and more.
I tested out the demo on EcoSpeed’s website to see what I could learn. According to the site, I can save 7% on fuel costs by following the EcoSpeed directions from 24th St. and Mission St. in San Francisco to Pescadero—a one-stoplight town south of the city. The fastest speed will get me to my destination in an hour and two minutes, while the EcoSpeed will take an hour and six minutes. The routes are exactly the same; the only difference is the recommended driving speed. How much are those four minutes worth to you?
EcoSpeed clearly still has some kinks to work out. According to the app, it will take an hour and a half to drive from San Francisco to Fast Company's headquarters in NYC using the optimal EcoSpeed. While I wish I could commute that quickly to the East Coast office, driving over a thousand miles per hour is a little unrealistic (and certainly wasteful).
But for shorter distances, EcoSpeed’s suggestions seem reasonable enough—if you’re willing to slow down a little bit in the name of efficiency.