Fuel efficient driving tips
No matter how good a driver you are there are always some things that you can do to reduce your fuel use and help the environment.
The best way to reduce fuel use is to use the car only when it is necessary. For example, instead of using it for short journeys, considering walking, cycling or public transport. Plan your journey time and route to avoid congestion, combine your trips, consider sharing journeys for regular journeys such as commuting (car-pooling). New technology enables vehicles to ‘communicate’ with the outside world and vehicles are becoming increasingly automated, for example with autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. This is likely to help improve fuel economy, as are other developments such as the stop/start technology referenced below. Ask your car dealer about how technology can improve fuel economy or look at the on-line and printed material. New cars with manual transmission will normally have gear shift indicators, and most cars will have displays that include MPG and other information to help encourage more fuel-efficient driving.
There are also a number of simple ways that you can reduce emissions when you drive:
Anticipate the road and other road users as far ahead as possible to smooth out your driving and avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking. Harsh acceleration is particularly bad for fuel consumption and increases wear and tear on the engine. It also tends to be associated with heavy braking, which adds to wear and tear on tyres and brakes. Smoother driving is good for you, your passengers and your car, and helps reduce congestion.
Change up at low revs
When accelerating, the most efficient way to use the gears is to change up early (low revs) using a moderate amount of throttle. The appropriate RPM to change up varies greatly according to the vehicle, load, gradient of the road etc, but the best advice is to change up as soon as your vehicle will comfortably take the next higher gear. There are times when power rather than efficiency might be more important – e.g. accelerating on a motorway slip road – but in most cases low rev gear changes when accelerating are appropriate and they’re almost always more efficient.
Driving for Free
When the accelerator pedal is released on a modern fuel injected vehicle, a fuel cut-off switch activates and the engine burns virtually no fuel. So, when approaching a junction, traffic lights or other situations in which you know you are going to have to slow down, step off the accelerator as early as possible, but remain in gear, and you will then be “driving for free”.
Drive at an appropriate speed
Driving at an appropriate speed to the road, and within the speed limit, gives you time to better anticipate traffic ahead helping you drive smoother and reduce fuel consumption. As well as being illegal and increasing the risk of collisions with pedestrians, cyclists and other road users, driving at excessive speed wastes fuel and can increase pollution. Reducing your speed, where it is appropriate, will also help. For example, driving at 75mph instead of 60mph uses around 18% more fuel.
Less stopping and starting means less CO2
Every time you brake and then accelerate again, 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.
Idling is wasting fuel
When the engine is idling you're wasting fuel and adding to CO2 emissions. If you are likely to be at a standstill for more than a minute or so, simply switch off the engine. You should then immediately turn the ignition (but not the engine) back on to ensure the airbags and other safety systems are activated. Many new cars are now fitted with a feature that does this for you automatically commonly known as ‘stop start’. If your car has stop-start, use it rather than deactivating the system as it will save you money and reduce emissions. When you first start the car, drive off as soon as possible. It will “warm up” faster when the engine is under load. When you are parked, sitting idling not only wastes fuel but is also an offence under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
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, particularly before long journeys, can help reduce fuel consumption, as well as helping to increase the life of your tyres.
Remove roof boxes, rack etc when not in use
Roof boxes, roof racks, bike racks etc add greatly to fuel consumption at speed as they increase drag and therefore wind resistance. For example, a roof box typically adds around 22% to fuel consumption at 62mph and 39% at 75mph. Even empty roof bars can add around 7% at motorway speeds.
Eco driving tips
For more information on saving money while driving see the Energy Saving Trust (EST) fuel efficient driving tips: https://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/transport/ecodriving/driving-advice
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