Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

February 10, 2011

Prius Winter Mileage Trick

Category: Save Fuel,Tips – Tom Harrison – 6:13 pm

Prius in Winter

Beat The Cold

I started a new job this year, and unlike my former commute (downstairs) I have to drive. To my utter horror, my mileage dropped below 40MPG after the first few weeks. But I fixed that.

The Prius will normally turn off the engine when the car is stopped, which, for my commute is frequently — many lights, and heavy traffic in some parts. But in the winter, until the car has warmed up, the Prius decides to keep the engine on. Idling in traffic isn’t good.

But, if I turn off the heater, off goes the engine. Ha!

My mileage this week has been back up to normal (a little lower than the normal 50+ MPG in winter — in cold climates they change the fuel mix in winter so cars will run properly, even if less efficiently).

So when the car is moving and the engine is on, I turn on the heater, while slowed or stopped, I turn it off. By 10 or 15 minutes the engine is hot enough that the engine will stop on its own. It takes a little longer to warm up the car, and sometimes you need to turn on the AC to prevent the windshield from fogging up, but otherwise, it’s a pretty good trick.

Photo Credit: kalevkevad via Flickr.


  1. A good tip! Did you read this somewhere, notice it over a period of time or set your mind to solving the mystery of lowered mileage?

    Comment by Paul Lambert — February 10, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

  2. Paul —

    Easy as pie. I am sitting in traffic, and NPR is doing a fundraiser so there’s nothing to listen to. So I look at the mileage and think “that can’t be right”. Sitting at a red light I happened to turn off the heat, and the engine turned off, too. Turned heat on, engine on.



    Comment by Tom Harrison — February 11, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

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