We all know that cars are one of the major CO2 producers, but we also all rely on our cars for work, errands, and socialising too much to give them up. There are however easy steps you can take to minimise the environmental impact of each trip.
Eco-friendly driving basically comes down to using as little fuel as possible — less fuel burned means less air pollution, as well as money saved in the long run, so plenty of reasons to change your driving habits then!
There are a few misconceptions about what affects fuel efficiency, like the size and age of the vehicle. Both can have an effect, but what really matters is the design of the individual car, so you’re best looking up real MPG figures (i.e. don’t trust the figures quoted by the manufacturer, verify them with an independent source) for cars if you’re thinking of buying a new one that’s more environmentally friendly.
Here are our tips on how to really save fuel while driving.
Keep Your Car in Good Condition
A well-serviced car will run more smoothly and efficiently, while a car with plenty of wear and tear will burn a lot more fuel. This includes using the right type of oil (this should be listed in your car’s manual) and the right tyre pressure, as getting either wrong will mean the car has to burn more fuel to keep itself moving.
Trim the Fat
Applied physics can help you save fuel; it takes more energy to move more weight and fight against drag, so ditch any unused roof racks or boxes. By adding extra weight and making the car less aerodynamic, they increase fuel consumption in two ways at once.
Likewise, if you have anything heavy in your boot that you don’t use, find a home for it indoors to save on weight.
Idle Only When You Should
Easy enough to say, but when should you idle? That’s a little complicated, but not too hard to remember.
Stopping and starting uses more fuel than idling for a short while, so if you’re waiting in traffic keep the car running. You should only switch the engine off if you have a good battery and expect to be waiting for a good few minutes (at least three), like at a level crossing for example.
Don’t idle to warm up the engine before you set off—it will run more efficiently warm, but the best way to warm it up is by driving.
Watch How You Drive
High speeds, sudden acceleration or braking, and labouring the engine in the wrong gear all tend to burn up fuel. Try to drive as smoothly as you can and within the speed limit to really keep fuel use down.
Better than all of the above ideas is to simply drive less.