E85 calculators are invaluable tools for drivers considering using the ethanol blend fuel E85 in their flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs). This comprehensive guide will explore every aspect of E85 calculators to help you understand how to maximize their potential.
We’ll start by explaining what exactly E85 fuel is, what makes a vehicle an FFV, and the pros and cons of using E85. Next we’ll dive into the details of E85 calculators—how they work, the key variables and calculations involved, and how to interpret the results.
You’ll learn tips and strategies for getting accurate and relevant data to input into the calculators. We’ll also compare popular online E85 calculator options to highlight the key features available. Additionally, you’ll find guidance on locating E85 fueling stations near you.
Finally, we’ll walk through sample E85 calculator scenarios to demonstrate how real-world factors like vehicle fuel efficiency, fuel prices, and mileage impact cost-savings outcomes. Whether you are completely new to E85 fuel or want to become an expert on E85 calculators, this guide will equip you with comprehensive knowledge. Let’s get started exploring the world of E85 calculators!
E85 Fuel Overview
Before diving into the specifics of E85 calculators, it’s important to understand what exactly E85 fuel is and how it compares to gasoline. This background will provide context on why E85 calculators are necessary tools for assessing the economic trade-offs.
What is E85 Fuel?
E85 is an ethanol fuel blend that consists of 51% to 83% ethanol blended with traditional gasoline, which makes up the remaining 49% to 17% of the mix.
The ethanol used in E85 is ethyl alcohol derived from the fermentation and distillation of plant materials. The most common sources are:
- Sugar cane
- Agricultural waste
After distillation, the ethanol is blended with gasoline at a specialized fueling facility to create E85 fuel.
The term “E85” refers to the percentage of ethanol in the blend. In the United States, the ethanol ratio for E85 is set by ASTM International at 51% to 83% ethanol.
However, the actual ethanol content in E85 can vary depending on factors like:
- Geographic location
- Seasonal fuel composition adjustments
- Fuel supplier practices
For example, in cold climates, the ethanol percentage may be reduced during winter months to prevent issues with cold starting.
E85 vs. Traditional Gasoline
Compared to pure gasoline, E85 has some key differences in its fuel properties and characteristics:
- E85 contains 51% – 83% ethanol vs. 0% for gasoline.
- E85 has an octane rating of 100-105 vs. 87-93 for regular gasoline.
- E85 has about 25-30% less energy per gallon than gasoline.
- FFVs average 15-30% lower miles per gallon on E85 compared to gasoline.
- E85 produces lower greenhouse gas emissions due to ethanol's plant-derived origin.
- E85 typically costs less per gallon than gasoline due to supply availability and tax incentives.
- Higher octane E85 allows for increased horsepower and acceleration when tuning the engine properly.
Cold Weather Startability
- Pure ethanol has poorer cold start performance than gasoline. Winter blends improve this.
- Some metals and plastics degrade with prolonged exposure to high ethanol concentrations.
As you can see, E85 offers some advantages but also has trade-offs, especially relating to fuel efficiency. This makes determining the economic breakeven point more complex, which is where E85 calculators come in handy.
FFV Vehicles Required for E85 Use
E85’s unique fuel properties require specially designed engine components and fuel systems to operate on this ethanol blend. Gasoline-only vehicles do not have compatible materials and cannot safely handle the increased ethanol content.
Only flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) can utilize E85 fuel. FFVs contain upgraded hardware allowing them to run on any gasoline-ethanol blend from 0% ethanol up to 85% ethanol in E85.
Some of the key flexible fuel vehicle upgrades include:
- Fuel tank and fuel lines made of ethanol-compatible materials
- Sensors to detect ethanol content and adjust engine timing
- Fuel injectors optimized for ethanol’s flow characteristics
- Electronic control module programmed for ethanol-gasoline flexibility
This specialized equipment allows FFV drivers to take advantage of E85's benefits while avoiding potential issues with non-compatible vehicles. Determining if your vehicle is an FFV is the first step to using E85 and accessing the capabilities of E85 calculators.
Finding Flexible Fuel Vehicles
You may be wondering if your current vehicle is capable of using E85. Here are some tips for identifying flexible fuel vehicles:
FFV badge – Check near the fuel door for an “E85/Flex Fuel” badge. This is the most reliable indicator.
Owner’s manual – The manual should state if your vehicle is E85 compatible.
Dealer verification – The dealership can confirm based on your VIN if your vehicle is FFV equipped.
Online VIN lookup – Sites like E85Vehicles.com allow you to search your VIN for FFV status.
Government listings – The U.S. Department of Energy provides lists of E85-compatible vehicles.
Fuel filler – FFV's often have a yellow fuel cap or yellow ring around the filler nozzle.
Consulting these resources will verify if your vehicle can utilize E85 fuel and enable you to benefit from an E85 calculator.
Pros and Cons of E85 versus Gasoline
Now that we’ve covered the basics of what E85 is and the vehicles required, let’s explore the key advantages and disadvantages of using E85 instead of traditional gasoline:
Benefits of E85
- Lower fuel cost – E85 typically costs 20-30% less per gallon than gasoline.
- High octane rating – Allows for increased horsepower and performance tuning.
- Reduced emissions – Lower lifecycle greenhouse gases relative to gasoline.
- Renewable fuel – Ethanol is plant-derived, displacing fossil fuel use.
- Domestic production – Most ethanol is produced locally, reducing foreign oil dependence.
- Engine cleaning – Ethanol acts as a detergent, helping clean fuel system deposits.
Drawbacks of E85
- Lower fuel efficiency – MPG decreases 15-30% compared to gasoline in the same car.
- Less energy density – More frequent fill ups required due to fewer miles per tank.
- Cold start issues – Poor starting can occur in very cold weather.
- Fewer fueling stations – E85 is not as widely available as gasoline.
- Fuel separation – Ethanol and gasoline can separate when moisture gets in tanks.
- Compatibility concerns – E85 can degrade some plastics and rubbers with prolonged exposure.
- Elevated emissions – NOx emissions tend to be higher when burning ethanol.
As you can see from this comparison, E85 offers intriguing benefits but also some inherent compromises compared to gasoline. Determining if the pros outweigh the cons depends on your individual circumstances. This is where the power of E85 calculators comes into play.
Intro to E85 Calculators
Now that you understand the basics of E85 flexible fuel, let’s dive into E85 calculators more deeply. We’ll cover what they are, why they’re useful, and provide an overview of how they work.
What is an E85 Calculator?
An E85 calculator is an online web tool or mobile app that allows drivers to compare the potential costs of using E85 versus gasoline in their flexible fuel vehicles.
The calculator takes into account the current price of E85 and gasoline along with the driver’s fuel efficiency on each. It then estimates the per-mile fuel costs when operating on E85 compared to gasoline.
E85 calculators remove the complex math required to figure out breakeven costs. With a few simple inputs, you can determine if switching to ethanol-based E85 can save money based on your real-world driving profile and fuel prices.
Why E85 Calculators are Helpful
E85 calculators eliminate the guesswork involved in deciding whether to use E85 fuel. They provide an unbiased, data-driven approach to cost analysis. Key benefits of using an E85 calculator include:
Estimate potential fuel cost savings – See if E85 can reduce your annual fuel spending based on your situation.
Account for lower fuel economy – Calculators automatically factor in the lower MPG experienced with E85.
Customized for your vehicle – Input your specific fuel efficiency to get tailored cost estimates.
Use local fuel prices – Cost savings potential depends heavily on current E85 and gasoline pricing in your area.
Consider mileage impact – Higher annual miles amplify the savings from lower-cost E85.
Regular re-calculation – It’s easy to rerun the numbers whenever fuel prices fluctuate.
Unbiased guidance – Take the guesswork out of determining breakeven costs.
Quick and simple – Get actionable data without complex spreadsheets or math.
Encourage E85 adoption – Seeing potential savings may convince more drivers to use E85.
Having the ability to customize the calculations for your driving habits and fuel costs provides an expert-level analysis, simplifying your choice between gasoline and renewable E85.
How Do E85 Calculators Work?
While each E85 calculator has its own unique features and quirks, they all follow a similar basic methodology:
Step 1. User inputs variables like:
- Current E85 price per gallon
- Current gasoline price per gallon
- Vehicle’s MPG on E85
- Vehicle’s MPG on gasoline
- Estimated annual mileage
Step 2. Calculator determines:
- Fuel cost per mile for E85
- Fuel cost per mile for gasoline
- Annual fuel quantity needed and costs for each
Step 3. Calculator compares the annual E85 cost to gasoline cost based on user inputs.
Step 4. Calculator displays key results like:
- Annual fuel cost for E85 vs. gasoline
- Annual savings for E85 vs. gasoline
- Breakeven mileage where E85 savings begin
These key steps give you the power to customize the calculator for your driving habits while benefitting from the built-in expertise of the tool.
Inputs needed for Accurate Savings Estimates
To get relevant and meaningful results from an E85 calculator, it’s critical to have accurate real-world data to input for your specific scenario. Key required input categories include:
Vehicle Fuel Efficiency
Having your FFV’s actual fuel economy on E85 and gasoline is foundational for the cost calculations. Every vehicle will experience somewhat different efficiency impacts.
Current Local Fuel Pricing
Regional differences in gasoline taxes, supply logistics, and market forces cause significant variability in prices nationwide. Using actual prices in your area is a must.
Annual Driving Mileage
Your annual miles determine how significantly the fuel cost savings impact your bottom line. Input your real-world numbers for relevance.
Ethanol Content of E85
Some calculators let you customize the ethanol ratio in E85 to match your regional fuel blend more closely.
With good data in these categories, the E85 calculator can provide you the most accurate annual cost projections and breakeven mileage for your specific vehicle.
E85 Calculator Key Variables
Now let’s take a deeper look at the key variables involved in E85 cost calculations. Getting accurate inputs for each of these parameters is essential to obtaining relevant results from an E85 calculator tailored to your situation.
Vehicle Fuel Efficiency
The fuel efficiency of your FFV on both E85 and gasoline is one of the most significant variables in determining the potential costs and savings. Vehicles experience an average decrease in miles per gallon of 15-30% when fueled with E85 compared to gasoline.
However, the exact MPG reduction you’ll see depends on factors unique to your vehicle like:
- Engine size and configuration
- Transmission type
- Vehicle weight and size
- Tune adjustments for E85
- Condition of engine and fuel system
Ideally you should directly measure your real-world MPG on both E85 and gasoline in your FFV to input into the calculator. Here are some tips to determine your vehicle’s fuel efficiency:
- Use the trip odometer to record miles driven between several fill ups of each fuel type.
- When refueling, note the quantity of fuel added in gallons.
- For each tank, divide miles driven by gallons added to get your MPG.
- Repeat this process multiple times to account for variability.
- Average the MPG results for E85 and gasoline separately.
If unable to directly measure, use reputable online MPG databases or manufacturer estimates. The more precisely you can define your efficiency numbers, the better your calculator results will be.
Local E85 and Gasoline Pricing
Regional differences in fuel prices are one of the main factors that determine if E85 will provide a cost benefit for you. As of early 2023, national average fuel prices are:
- E85: $2.50 – $3.00 per gallon
- Gasoline: $3.00 – $4.00 per gallon
However, state taxes, local supply and refining economics, and seasonal demand cause high variability market to market. Over the course of a year, prices can fluctuate 50% or more.
To get an accurate picture of potential savings, you need to input current local prices into your E85 calculator for both fuels. Tips for finding the latest prices include:
- Use GasBuddy.com or GasGuru.com to view station prices reported by drivers.
- Check websites of nearby stations for posted prices.
- Call stations directly to inquire on E85 and gasoline prices.
Updating your localized fuel prices each time you run the E85 calculator numbers will ensure you have the full picture of the current economics in your region.
Annual Driving Mileage
The more miles you drive each year, the more impact fuel cost savings will have on your bottom line. Your actual annual mileage is key for the E85 calculator to estimate potential yearly fuel spending reductions.
Ideally you should input your real-world annual miles driven over the past few years. Ways to determine this include:
- Checking maintenance records for recorded odometer readings.
- Reviewing auto insurance policy documents with annual mileage.
- Looking back at fuel receipts to tally gallons purchased.
- Tracking mileage in a journal or app over time.
If your annual mileage is not available, consider sources like:
- Federal highway statistics – average is around 14,000 miles per driver annually.
- Your monthly mileage x 12 months – multiply your typical monthly miles by 12.
- General estimates by vehicle type – such as 15,000 miles for everyday use vehicles.
The more miles you drive, the greater the impact of fuel cost savings when using cheaper E85. But be sure to use actual numbers specific to your driving habits for optimal calculator accuracy.
Ethanol Content of E85
As mentioned previously, the ethanol content of E85 can vary between 51% up to 83% based on factors like geography, season, and fuel provider practices.
Some E85 calculators allow you to customize the ethanol percentage used in their savings calculations. This advanced input can improve accuracy if you know the specific ethanol content of E85 in your region.
For example, E85 sold in cold climates may contain 70% ethanol in winter months rather than the typical 83% in warmer weather. Adjusting the calculator to match your actual ethanol percentage provides refined cost estimates.
If the ability to tweak ethanol content is not provided, the default assumption is usually around 83% ethanol in E85. This represents the maximum limit per ASTM standards.
While ethanol content refinements represent a more advanced calculator input, it allows squeezing even more precision out of your cost analysis if this data is available.
Additional Optional Inputs
Beyond the core basic inputs covered, some E85 calculators provide the ability to enter additional parameters to further customize the savings estimates.
Some other common optional inputs include:
- Fuel system efficiency – such as proven EPA MPG vs. real-world MPG
- Gasoline blend type – regular, midgrade, or premium
- Current fuel tank level – for refueling cost estimates
- Future price projections – for predicting costs
- Vehicle purchase and ownership timeframe – to model lifetime costs
- Custom gasoline-ethanol mix options – beyond just E85 and gasoline
The more inputs provided, the more the calculator can refine the cost modeling for your precise scenario. However, the core options already outlined represent the most critical variables for an accurate view of potential E85 savings.
E85 Calculator Outputs and Analysis
Now that we’ve covered the key inputs, let’s switch gears to reviewing the typical outputs provided by E85 calculators once your scenario is entered. Learning how to read and analyze these results is critical for deciding if E85 is right for you.
Fuel Cost Per Mile
One of the most fundamental results provided by E85 calculators is your personalized fuel cost per mile driven when using E85 versus gasoline.
This metric accounts for the current local prices and your vehicle’s tested fuel efficiency on each fuel type. It gives you an apples-to-apples comparison of what a mile driven costs you when fueled by E85 or gasoline.
The fuel with the lower per-mile cost offers the most economic choice. However, don’t forget to also factor in availability when making your E85 usage decisions.
Annual Fuel Costs
E85 calculators will estimate your total yearly fuel spending on both E85 and gasoline based on expected mileage.
This allows you to quantify the bottom line difference over a 12 month period between the two fuel options given your real-world driving habits and prices.
The greater your annual mileage, the more magnified any per-mile savings become. Cost savings may be relatively modest for low mileage drivers versus high mileage users.
Yearly Fuel Cost Savings
The annual fuel cost savings expected by switching to E85 from gasoline provides the tangible benefit case for its use.
Seeing a detailed quantifiable savings based on your driving patterns provides motivation to seek out this alternative renewable fuel. The calculator removes all guesswork from the financial analysis.
For drivers who value cost performance and eco-friendly ethanol, visible projected savings are powerful. But even breakeven may work for some seeking E85’s other advantages.
The mileage where E85 costs begin to show savings vs gasoline is called the “breakeven.” This input helps determine if savings are relevant for your habits.
For example, a breakeven of 18,000 miles means E85 only becomes cheaper if driving over this annual mileage. Below this level, gasoline may be more economical still.
Consider your actual annual miles driven when evaluating if an E85 breakeven point fits your driving profile and needs.
Some calculators estimate your potential “payback period” – how long it would take to recoup any cost of FFV acquisition through E85's lower costs.
For example, an E85 savings of $200/year with a $1000 FFV upgrade premium means a 5 year payback period before reaching net savings.
This metric helps make the case for investing in an E85-capable FFV model versus a gasoline-only vehicle. The faster the payback time, the stronger the economic argument becomes.
Estimated Fuel Consumption
You may find calculators showing the estimated gallons of fuel consumed annually based on your inputs.
This allows comparing expected E85 gallons needed to gasoline gallons given the variance in fuel efficiency. It also helps validate the reasonableness of the projected mileage and cost figures.
Some advanced E85 calculators provide the ability to forecast "what-if" scenarios with different fuel prices, mileage, and other forward-looking assumptions.
Building these models can provide insight on variables with the most influence on potential savings. And predicted outcomes help with budgeting and planning for ongoing E85 usage.
The wide range of possible outputs from E85 calculators provides both detailed financial modeling as well as quick guidance on affordable fuel choices. Learn to use the results in conjunction with availability factors to make informed real-world E85 decisions.
Locating E85 Fueling Stations
A key consideration beyond just cost is being able to locate and access E85 fueling stations conveniently based on your driving habits and needs. While availability is growing, E85 is still outpaced by standard gasoline by a wide margin.
Let’s explore the current landscape for finding E85 pumps and some resources to help you find stations in your region or along planned travel routes.
E85 Infrastructure Overview
As of early 2023, the United States has:
- About 4,700 retail E85 public fueling locations
- E85 available in around 1-2% of fueling stations
- At least some E85 coverage in nearly every state
- Highest density of stations in Midwest region
While this represents significant growth – stations have increased 10x over the past decade – E85 is still a relative niche fuel with limited supply points compared to gasoline and diesel.
Growth has been driven by factors like government biofuel mandates, expanded FFV offerings from automakers, and consumer interest in renewable fuels. But challenges like lower profit margins continue to limit small station provider adoption.
Despite the limited supply network, strategic station placement means the vast majority of US residents live reasonably close to E85 – especially in states with high FFV ownership.
Resources for Finding E85 Stations
When considering transitioning to E85, it is essential to factor in practical access to fueling supply along your regular commute and travel routes.
Fortunately there are a number of excellent resources available to pinpoint E85 station locations near any address nationwide:
ALT Fuels Station Locator – From the Department of Energy. Allows searching by city, zip code, or mapping routes.
Pure-Gas Station Finder – Plots both E85 and gasoline stations on interactive map.
Apps like Open Fuel Standard – Provide station maps plus price reporting and reviews.
Fuel retailer websites – Many large fuel brands like Shell list E85 locations.
Local government E85 station lists – Some municipalities maintain databases to support fleets.
Calling stations directly – Verify they currently have E85 and pumps are operational.
Using multiple resources together provides the best chance of identifying nearby E85 supply points. Focus foremost on stations conveniently located near your highest usage areas.
What to Look for at E85 Stations
Once at a station that supposedly offers E85 fueling, be sure to verify:
Pumps are clearly designated as E85 with visible signage.
E85 button, lever, or grade is clearly marked on the pumping units.
Station attendants can confirm the station has active E85 capability.
No signs indicate the E85 pump is out of service or not currently available.
The price listed for E85 matches expectations – it should be lower than gasoline.
There are no warnings about E85 compatibility or restrictions on FFV vehicles.
Nozzles, hoses, and dispensers look well maintained – inspect before fueling.
Place appears professional and legitimate – avoid any stations that seem sketchy or dilapidated.
Taking these quick precautionary steps helps avoid potential mishaps like mistakenly fueling with gasoline or using inactive E85 pumps. Find stations that inspire confidence through their branding, facilities, and professionalism.
Planning E85 Fuel Stops on Trips
For longer drives, plan your refueling stops in advance to ensure you can fill up with E85 along the route. Useful tips include:
Map the locations of stations on your route before departing.
Focus on stations along freeway exits near your planned rest areas.
Include larger truck stops in your search – they are more likely to offer E85.
Have a backup station option in case your initial target is out of fuel or closed.
When using GPS navigation, look for E85 filters to optimize your routing.
Download an E85 app that allows drivers to report station status in real-time.
By creatively integrating E85 station research into your travel plans, the minor inconvenience of limited supply can usually be effectively managed.
While availability remains a challenge, useful technology resources combined with sound planning make accessing E85 fuel increasingly viable nationwide. Don’t let limited locations deter you from leveraging the calculated savings from your E85 calculator.
Online E85 Calculator Options
Now that we’ve covered general E85 calculator concepts in depth, let’s look at some of the top online E85 calculator tools available and highlight their key features.
These real-world examples will demonstrate the types of inputs, calculations, and outputs you can expect from quality E85 calculators. We’ll focus on popular free online options accessible via website or mobile app.
Department of Energy E85 Calculator
- Converts common units like MPG to L/km automatically
- Accounts for seasonal E85 blend variability
- Visual charts of key results
- Ability to re-run with different assumptions
- Mobile friendly responsive layout
General Motors E85 Calculator
- Estimates 5 year potential fuel costs
- Models "what-if" scenarios like future MPG
- Calculator focuses specifically on GM vehicle data
- Clean simple interface requires only essential inputs
Open Fuel Standard Calculator
- Compares E85 to other blends like E30 and E50
- Price forecasts based on current trend data
- Savings displayed in gallons and percentages
- Open source platform with transparent methodology
Pure-Gas E85 Calculator
- Savings estimates for 5 year and 10 year ownership periods
- Option to include vehicle acquisition premium cost
- Displays graphics of fuel cost curves
- Detailed price trend data power forecasts
HowMuch E85 Calculator
- Allows custom gasoline/ethanol mix beyond just E85
- Calculates greenhouse gas emission differences
- Interactive slider to visualize different assumption impacts
- Clean graph-focused mobile-friendly interface
While basic in scope, each of these popular E85 calculator tools provides the core essential calculations required while adding their own unique features and visualizations.
Comparing multiple E85 calculator options allows you to find the one that best fits your use cases and preferences. Most are simple and quick to provide high-level guidance for making affordable and sustainable fuel choices.
Enhanced Capabilities of Downloadable Spreadsheet Calculators
In addition to the online web and mobile app calculators covered, some excellent E85 calculator tools are available as downloadable spreadsheets. These offer enhanced customization and advanced capabilities for those wanting maximum detail.
Some of the key advantages of spreadsheet-based E85 calculators include:
- Complete visibility into formulas and methodology
- Ability to add columns for additional variables
- Create multiple customizable scenarios and assumptions
- Expandable to include additional years of projections
- Add charts and graphs for visual insights
- Fine tune every aspect like depreciation impacts
Downsides of spreadsheet calculators can include complexity, difficult interfaces, and the need to manually download and manage updates. But for expert financial analysis, nothing matches the power and customization available.
Key Takeaways from Reviewing E85 Calculator Options
This high-level review of both web-based and spreadsheet E85 calculator offerings revealed:
All quality E85 calculators cover the core essential inputs and savings calculations.
Differentiating features often focus on visualization like charts or forecasting capabilities.
Spreadsheet versions offer extreme customizability for those wanting to dive deeper.
Simple, clean, mobile-friendly designs tend to be the most user-friendly.
The majority of options are free to use with no required signup or login.
Ad-supported models help keep advanced features available at no cost.
With the wide variety of E85 calculator tools now available, you can choose one tailored to match your use case, priorities, and level of desired complexity. Each can eliminate guesswork regarding real-world potential for E85 fuel savings.
Using E85 Calculators for Accurate Valuations
Now that you have a solid grasp of E85 calculator options and inner workings, let’s shift the focus to tips and best practices for using E85 calculators effectively to make sure your results are relevant and accurate.
Garbage in equals garbage out. So providing quality inputs is crucial to getting valuations that truly reflect potential costs and savings in your real-world driving scenario.
Ensure Vehicle is E85 Compatible
The first step may seem obvious but double checking that your vehicle is E85 compatible is critical. Remember that only flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) have the specialized equipment required to utilize E85.
Consult your owner’s manual, dealership, or online VIN lookup tools to validate your car is equipped for E85. While misfueling protection exists, putting any ethanol blend in a non-compatible vehicle still poses risks.
Determine Real-World Fuel Efficiency
Your single biggest impact on projected savings comes from your vehicle’s tested MPG ratings on both E85 versus gasoline. Every vehicle experiences somewhat unique efficiency impacts.
Follow the guidance provided earlier to directly measure your real-world mileage over several tank fill ups of each fuel type. This may take some time investment but provides the most realistic figures.
If unable to test directly, rely on owner forums and enthusiast groups focused on your specific vehicle to find credible community efficiency reports.
Research Local Fuel Pricing Trends
Fuel pricing analysis takes some diligence since costs can fluctuate frequently, but pays dividends in accuracy. Prices for E85 and gasoline can swing 50 cents or more month to month.
Consult both historic price graphs and real-time spot pricing from stations in your area. Understand if costs tend to be higher or lower than national or state averages.
Factor in impacts like seasonal demand cycles, taxes, and supply infrastructure when projecting future costs. Localized research leads to better modeling.
Hone in on Relevant Annual Mileage Data
Your projected annual miles driven has a linear impact on potential savings, so accurate numbers based on real-world habits are key.
Look back at maintenance logs, insurance records, fuel receipts, or mileage tracking to determine miles for a typical recent 12 month period.
If estimations are required, find sources providing segmented averages by vehicle type and usage patterns for more relevance. Everyday drivers, commuters, fleet vehicles, and long-haul transport all vary significantly.
Double Check Accuracy of All Inputs
Before relying on any calculator outputs, take the time re-check that all your input data is realistic and relevant for your specific vehicle.
Common input errors like confusing MPG and LP100KM values or gasoline prices for diesel undermine the results. Garbage in ultimately equals garbage out.
Though it takes some effort, use the most accurate assumptions possible across all variables. This brings the projections in alignment with true expected costs based on your unique habits and needs.
Understand Output Factors Most Relevant For You
With quality inputs established, focus most on the calculator output factors that align with your priorities in considering E85.
For cost-focused drivers, annual savings, fuel cost per mile, and payback period carry the most weight. Performance enthusiasts care more about power gains. Eco-drivers emphasize reduced emissions.
Let your goals guide emphasis on the outputs most meaningful for your needs as you evaluate options and make usage decisions accordingly.
Rerun Regularly With Latest Data
E85 calculators are useful not just for an initial snapshot, but as an ongoing tool to re-analyze frequently as conditions change.
Rerunning calculations with the latest mileage, efficiency info, and local price data allows you to continually evaluate if E85 fits your evolving profile and needs.
Set a reminder to refresh your numbers quarterly, when fuel pricing swings, or before long trips to keep your decision making attuned to your most current real-world scenario.
While not overly complex, properly using E85 calculators does require diligence. But that effort pays dividends in Tuning your inputs and analysis regularly is the key to making E85 calculators an invaluable expert advisor regarding real-world costs and savings potential.
E85 Calculator Scenarios and Examples
One of the most helpful ways to illustrate effective usage of E85 calculators is walking through detailed examples using real-world assumptions and data.
Let’s step through some example driver profiles, key inputs, and projected results to demonstrate how E85 calculators can provide financial clarity when used properly.
Profile 1: Average Long Distance Commuter
Jeff is a sales rep living in Minnesota who drives 40,000 miles per year, mostly highway commuting around the state for appointments. His flexible fuel vehicle averages 28 MPG on gasoline but 22 MPG when running on E85. What are his potential savings?
- Annual Mileage: 40,000 miles
- Gasoline MPG: 28
- E85 MPG: 22
- Gasoline Price: $3.20/gallon
- E85 Price: $2.15/gallon
Sample E85 Calculator Results
- Annual Gasoline Cost: $4,571
- Annual E85 Cost: $3,636
- Annual Savings: $935
At 40,000 miles per year and with significant fuel efficiency impacts, E85 still provides solid annual savings of over $900 based on Minnesota's lower E85 costs. The savings are highly dependent on prices in your region.
Profile 2: Urban Commuter With Short Weekday Commute
Sally commutes 10 miles roundtrip to downtown Chicago for her job five days a week. She also drives locally on the weekends. She averages about 12,000 miles annually. Her vehicle gets 25 MPG on gasoline and 20 MPG when running on E85.
- Annual Mileage: 12,000 miles
- Gasoline MPG: 25
- E85 MPG: 20
- Gasoline Price: $3.60/gallon
- E85 Price: $2.90/gallon
Sample E85 Calculator Outputs
- Annual Gasoline Cost: $1,728
- Annual E85 Cost: $1,740
- Annual Savings: -$12 (Gasoline cheaper by $12)
With fewer annual miles driven, slightly lower Chicago E85 prices don’t offset Sally’s fuel economy reduction from E85 usage. Gasoline is still a bit cheaper in her situation. If E85 pricing dropped further, it may become cost-effective for her low mileage needs.
Profile 3: Fleet Manager Overseeing Vehicles Across a State
Juan manages a statewide courier fleet with a mix of flex fuel and gasoline-only vehicles. He wants to analyze E85 breakeven costs for possibly expanding adoption. Representative fleet stats:
- Average annual miles per vehicle: 22,000
- Gasoline MPG: 18 city / 24 highway
- E85 MPG: 15 city / 20 highway
- Annual Mileage: 22,000 miles
- Gasoline MPG: 21 combined
- E85 MPG: 17.5 combined
- Gasoline Price: $3.25/gallon
- E85 Price: $2.55/gallon
Sample E85 Calculator Outputs
- Annual Gasoline Cost: $3,286
- Annual E85 Cost: $2,743
- Annual Savings: $543
Given significant annual mileage for the fleet vehicles, E85 shows over $500 in potential annual fuel savings with Colorado's fuel pricing. Juan can use this analysis to build a business case for acquiring additional flexible fuel vehicles for the fleet.
Profile 4: Performance Enthusiast With Modified Engine
Carlos enjoys racing his FFV on weekends and has optimized the engine specifically for high-octane E85 fuel. His goal is maximizing performance, not cost savings.
- Annual Mileage: 9,000 miles
- Gasoline MPG: 18
- E85 MPG: 12
- Gasoline Price: $3.90/gallon
- E85 Price: $3.15/gallon
Sample E85 Calculator Outputs
- Annual Gasoline Cost: $1,890
- Annual E85 Cost: $2,295
- Annual Savings: -$405 (Gasoline cheaper by $405)
Despite the significant fuel economy hit, Carlos opts for E85 because the engine output and performance is substantially higher. He knowingly pays more to enjoy the benefits of ethanol's increased octane and oxygenation.
Key Takeaways from These Example Profiles
Walking through these real-world driver scenarios provides great perspective into how E85 calculators express potential costs and trade-offs based on highly variable data.
We can observe a few high-level trends from these examples:
Fuel price spreads and vehicle MPG have an outsized impact.
More annual miles amplify the effect of per-mile E85 savings.
Performance motivations justify E85 use even at a net fuel cost premium.
Individual driving patterns and needs dictate the appropriate fuel choice.
These examples reinforce that effectively applying quality inputs to an E85 calculator is the only way to reveal your personalized breakeven costs and savings opportunities. The savings projected for others will not match your unique driving profile. But with your specific scenarios modeled, the calculators remove all guesswork and allow optimizing your fuel selections accordingly.
Expert Strategies to Maximize E85 Savings
Now that you have a well-rounded understanding of E85 calculators, let’s shift gears to expert tips and techniques for maximizing real-world savings from using E85 based on calculator guidance.
While the calculators provide estimated costs and breakevens, you also need sound strategies for translating projections into tangible low-cost miles fueled by renewable E85.
Understand the Biggest Factors In Your Savings
As discussed throughout this guide, a few key variables have an outsized impact on your potential savings when using E85:
Fuel Cost Differential – The price spread between E85 and gasoline in your region determines the baseline savings opportunity. Track pricing trends and seasonal impacts in your area.
Vehicle Efficiency Variance – Your MPG drop-off between gasoline and E85 determines how much this offsets lower E85 fuel costs. Focus on maximizing mileage.
Annual Mileage – Higher mileage amplifies savings since fuel costs are fixed. The more miles driven, the more you save.
E85 Availability – Convenient access to stations along your routes determines realistic usage potential. Scout locations thoroughly.
While you can’t control fuel prices, you can optimize other aspects like vehicle efficiency, mileage accrual, and station access to maximize your savings benefits.
Improve Your FFV's Fuel Efficiency
Your vehicle's proven real-world MPG on both E85 and gasoline is the key data enabling accurate projections. So enhancing efficiency pays multiples dividends:
- Directly lowers fuel costs per mile for both E85 and gasoline
- Reduces the MPG variance between E85 and gasoline
- Allows more miles driven before refueling
Focus on tuning, tire pressures, cleaning fuel systems, carrying only necessities, and gradual acceleration and braking to get the most miles out of every gallon. Enlist a repair shop that specializes in high-efficiency vehicle optimization if needed.
Modify Driving Habits to Increase Mileage
Since total miles driven has a proportional impact on E85 savings, finding ways to log more miles amplifies savings:
- Consolidate trips and errands for fewer overall miles driven
- Coordinate rides with coworkers or carpool when possible
- Choose closer destinations when you have flexible options
- Walk or bike for short local trips instead of driving
- Take on additional business deliveries or sales calls
Increasing annual mileage by even a few thousand miles can shift E85 into a cost-saving scenario based on calculator projections. Drive thoughtfully to get more miles out of every gallon.
Use Apps to Find the Best Local E85 Prices
The price you pay at the pump determines how cost effective E85 will be. Cast a wide net to find stations offering the best rates:
- Use apps like GasBuddy to map and monitor local prices
- Check different brands and neighborhoods for variances
- Ask other E85 drivers for tips on cheaper locations
- Stick with stations proven to regularly have low prices
- Time fill ups for promotions or membership discounts
PINpointing the stations with lowest long-term E85 costs ensures maximizing how much you save per mile driven.
Ensure Proper E85 Vehicle Maintenance
Since E85 is a more aggressive fuel, staying vigilant with vehicle maintenance is key:
- Follow factory recommendations for FFV fuel system cleaning
- Replace fuel filters and pumps per suggested intervals
- Inspect fuel lines and gaskets for any leaks
- Check oxygen sensors and injectors for fouling issues
- Consider occasional fuel system flushes to reduce deposits
Well-maintained FFVs experience less MPG deterioration when shifting between gasoline and E85. Proper maintenance today saves money over your vehicle's lifetime.
Be Strategic in Long Term Vehicle Choices
When shopping for your next car, keep the benefits of flexible fuel capability in mind:
- Seek FFV models to enable choice between gasoline and E85
- Prioritize vehicles with reputations for efficient E85 MPG
- Consider American-built FFVs to support domestic jobs
- Research manufacturers committed to renewable fuels
- Evaluate total long term costs including fuel savings
Choosing optimal vehicles for E85 flexibility helps sustain access to this renewable fuel alternative providing calculated savings for years to come.
E85 and Flex Fuel Predictions For The Future
To conclude our deep dive into E85 calculators, let’s look ahead at predictions regarding the long term outlook for both E85 availability and growth in flexible fuel vehicles on US roads.
Projected Expansion of US E85 Infrastructure
Although E85 has increased significantly over the past 15 years, it still represents only a fraction of US fueling stations. But steady continued growth is expected in stations offering E85:
50% increase over 5 years – Potential to reach 7,000 public E85 stations by 2028 based on historic gains.
Ongoing Midwest density – The midwest will remain the highest concentration due to corn feedstock proximity.
Larger adoption by major brands – More national fuel retailers adding E85 to attract FFV customers.
Improved rural access – Federal and state programs focused on expanding rural station coverage.
Enhanced geographic diversity – Areas like the southeast projected to see more rapid station growth to balance the Midwest dominance.
Fleet and government fueling sites – E85 availability will increase at private and public fleet vehicle fuel depots.
More abundant E85 supply will enhance the ability to leverage the savings identified via E85 calculators for growing numbers of drivers nationwide.
Forecast for Flexible Fuel Vehicle Prevalence
Availability of flex fuel capable vehicles in the US has plateaued at around 20 million on the road today. Positive trends Expected in expanding FFV offerings include:
Increasing CAFE Credits – Automakers get bonus credits for producing FFV models, even if rarely fueled with E85.
High Satisfaction Among Current FFV Drivers – Owners are happy with the savings and performance when opting to use E85.
Mainstreaming of Flex Fuel – More car segments beyond pickups and SUVs gain FFV trims.
Continued Domestic Automaker Leadership – GM, Ford, and Chrysler drive most FFV model availability.
Growth in Compact and Small Car FFVs – Meet demand for affordable, efficient flexible fuel cars.
Advances in Engine Efficiency – Improving the MPG differential between gasoline mode and E85 operation.
Enhanced Cold Weather Performance – Addressing cold start and drivability issues with E85 that limit adoption in some regions.
With expanded model representation and ongoing fuel efficiency gains, FFV capabilities will become more mainstream – paving the way for more drivers to access E85 savings with the help of cost-saving calculators.
Key Takeaways and Conclusions
We've now covered E85 flexible fuel, calculator capabilities, locating stations, maximizing savings, and future outlooks. To wrap up, let's summarize the key takeaways:
E85 Offers Intriguing Benefits
When used properly in compatible vehicles, ethanol-based E85 offers reduced emissions, domestic energy production, engine cleaning, and most importantly fuel cost savings.
FFV Vehicles Enable Consumer Choice
Flexible fuel vehicles uniquely allow drivers to choose when E85 makes economic sense for them and pivot between gasoline and E85 accordingly.
E85 Calculators Provide Custom Guidance
E85 calculators eliminate guesswork by providing tailored cost modeling based on your real-world data, which is invaluable in fuel selection.
Quality Inputs Are Critical
Taking the time to provide accurate vehicle efficiency, mileage, and localized price data is crucial to getting relevant projections.
Savings Factors Can Be Optimized
Drivers can amplify savings through improving MPG, adding mileage, finding lowest prices, and maintaining vehicles.
Multiple Calculator Options Exist
A variety of free online and spreadsheet calculators are available to suit different analysis needs and preferences.
E85 Infrastructure Is Expanding
Ongoing growth in E85 station availability and flexible fuel vehicle offerings will provide more savings opportunities.
Calculators Serve as Ongoing Advisors
E85 calculators are most valuable when used regularly to tune selections as conditions like prices fluctuate.
The knowledge you've gained throughout this comprehensive guide to E85 calculators equips you to leverage these tools to eliminate confusion on vehicle fueling choices. By taking the time to input quality real-world data, you can unlock expertise estimating your personalized E85 costs, savings, and breakeven trade-offs.
Focus on the factors most relevant to your driving motivations – whether lowest cost, performance, or emissions – and let the calculators provide mathematical validation confirming when putting more affordable domestic renewable fuel like E85 into your tank makes solid economic sense. E85 calculators serve as ongoing expert advisors to guide data-driven fuel selection flexibility.
I hope this has provided you a complete picture of the value E85 calculators offer and given you confidence in properly using their projections to maximize savings. Please let me know if you have any other questions!