November 13, 2017

Does ethanol reduce my miles per gallon?

Ethanol contains less energy (BTUs) than petroleum-based gasoline. That difference is negligible in lower ethanol blends such as E10 or E15. (Many consumers actually report improved gas mileage and performance with ethanol blends above E10, especially with E15 and E30.)

Because of the lower energy value, you may see a slight drop in your gas mileage when you use even higher blends such as E85. However, the price advantage of higher ethanol blends needs to be taken into account when you make your fuel choice.

In other words, it’s not just about miles per gallon. It’s also about cost per mile.

This is especially true if you drive a flex fuel vehicle that can use the entire range of American Ethanol blends.

Here’s how the math works:
  • Assume that using E85 may result in a miles-per-gallon reduction of up to 12%. 
  • If E85 costs 12% less (or greater) than E10, you’re miles— and money—ahead. 
  • So, if E10 costs $2.00 per gallon, E85 would need to cost 24¢ less ($1.76) in order for you to “break even.” And every penny discount above 24¢ reduces your cost per mile even further. 
In truth, E85 should always be priced at a much greater discount than 12% compared to E10. If it’s not, then you need to find another retailer!

This is an online calculator that allows you to quickly determine the price advantage of ethanol blends vs. fuel that contains no ethanol.

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