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Fuel efficient driving tips

When you are considering purchasing a new vehicle and you have selected the most appropriate class of vehicle for your needs, choose the most fuel efficient vehicle within that group. The fuel consumption of similar-sized cars can vary by as much as 45% and by choosing the most fuel efficient car in its class, rather than the one with the average emissions, overall fuel consumption can typically be reduced by up to 24%. Pure electric cars are another alternative, offering emission free driving, while plug-in hybrids – using a mix of electricity and petrol- offer significant fuel economy, emit very little emissions and are exempt from road tax duty and the London congestion charge. 

There is no easy technical way to reduce CO2 and other emissions. The best way is to use the car only when it is necessary. For example, instead of using it for short journeys, consider walking or taking public transport where possible. Try planning journey routes to avoid congestion, combining trips, or perhaps car sharing.

There are also a number of simple ways that you can reduce emissions when you drive:

Drive at an appropriate speed

Sticking to speed limits helps conserve fuel. Driving at slower speeds also gives you time to anticipate traffic ahead, helping you drive more smoothly. Where it is appropriate, driving at a steady speed of 50 miles per hour (mph) instead of 70 mph can improve fuel economy by 25 per cent.

Less stopping and starting means less CO2

Every time you stop then start again in a traffic queue, the engine uses more fuel and therefore produces more CO2. Keeping an eye on the traffic ahead and slowing down early by gently lifting your foot off the accelerator while keeping the car in gear can help the vehicle operate more efficiently. In this way, the traffic may have started moving again by the time you approach the vehicle in front, so you can then change gear and be on your way.

Over-revving accelerates emissions

Modern car engines are designed to be efficient from the moment they are switched on, so revving up the engine unnecessarily will only waste fuel and increase engine wear. By using your gears wisely - by changing up a gear a little earlier – you can also reduce engine speed. If you drive a diesel car try changing up a gear before the rev-counter reaches 2000rpm. For a petrol car try changing up before 2500rpm.

Idling is wasting fuel

When the engine is idling you're wasting fuel and adding to CO2 emissions. If you're likely to be at a standstill for more than a minute or so, simply switch off the engine. Many new cars are now fitted with a feature that does this for you automatically. When you first start the car, drive off as soon as possible.  It will “warm up” much more quickly when the engine is under load. 

Choose an Ultra Low emission car

Pure electric cars produce zero tail pipe emissions.  Electric hybrids emit 75g or less of CO2 per kilometre from the tailpipe – see for more details. 

Drive smoothly 

More generally, avoid harsh acceleration and heavy braking, both of which have a very significant effect on savings in fuel consumption.

Pump up to cut down

Under-inflated tyres create more resistance when your car is moving, which means your engine has to work harder, so more fuel is used and more CO2 emissions are produced. Simply checking and adjusting your tyre pressures regularly and also before long journeys can help reduce fuel consumption, as well as helping to increase the life of your tyres.

Less clutter in your car means less CO2

Clutter in your boot is extra weight your engine has to lug around. By removing any items you won't need for your journey, you could reduce your engine's workload and so burn less fuel and cut your CO2 emissions. This also includes things like roof racks when not needed, as they add weight, increase drag and as a result increase fuel consumption.

Eco driving tips

For more information on saving money while driving see the Energy Saving Trust fuel efficient driving tips



Link to Information on Car Fuel Data and CO2 emissions - next page