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How to Save Fuel When Driving

Cars are one of the UK’s, indeed the Western World’s, and biggest polluters. In Britain there are around 31 million, spewing out carbon dioxide as well as carbon monoxide, carcinogens and other harmful substances. Furthermore, the cost of petrol is spiralling out of control. The unfortunate fact is that cars are a necessity in the modern world and will be for the foreseeable future, so if we can’t do without them it makes sense to think about what we can do to reduce fuel consumption.

Even electric cars, although a big leap forward, are not carbon neutral, since the electricity which powers them has to be generated and most likely this will be generated by burning fossil fuels.

Before Every Journey Think – Do I Actually Have to Drive?

The best way to reduce the amount of fuel you use on a journey is of course not to drive in the in first place. Driving has become such an intrinsic part of everyday life for most people that we rarely if ever even stop to consider whether any other option is available.

An engine is at its least efficient when cold, so very short journeys, such as to the local shop, is the most fuel intensive as well as causing the most wear and tear to the engine. Get into the habit of asking yourself before every journey, “could I walk?” For longer journeys there is always public transport.

Could You Use Public Transport?

Using public transport instead of your car clearly reduces carbon emissions, though unfortunately it can often be more expensive, particularly for one off journeys. For regular journeys such as going to and from work however it can be more affordable and you should look into the cost of travelling by bus or train. A season ticket should be the cheapest option and saves the hassle of having to buy a ticket everyday.

There are other advantages to public transport. There is no rush hour stress, if you’ve been drinking alcohol the night before there are no worries about being over the limit and because you’re not doing the driving you can do other things with the time. You can read a book or the paper, grab forty winks, take a laptop and catch up on some work or perhaps make some phone calls. It’s almost like putting extra hours into your day!

Plan Your Journey

When you do need to drive, plan your journey. Try to pick a route that will allow you to travel at a steady speed which avoids heavy traffic and has the minimum of junctions and corners.

If there is a possible motorway route then although it might be further in terms of miles to your destination it may still require less fuel as a constantly accelerating and decelerating wastes energy causes more wear and tear to your car.

Consider whether you really need to travel in the rush hour. Of course this is often unavoidable but could you perhaps set off to work half an hour earlier and avoid the traffic? Speak to your boss about the possibility of introducing flexible starting and finishing times. A lot of firms do this these days. Some people will want to start earlier to get an early finish; parents will often want to start later so they can take their children to school. If you have a less stressful journey because you’ve avoided the rush hour you’ll be in a better frame of mind to start your working day.

Keep Your Car in Good Condition

A well maintained car will be more efficient that a poorly maintained one. Make sure the oil is kept topped up and your radiator isn’t leaking. Also, under inflated tyres mean the engine has to work harder and use more fuel so check the pressure regularly. Keep an eye on the number of miles per gallon you are getting and investigate any sudden changes.

Can You Car Share With Anyone?

People are often reluctant to car share. They see the car almost as a sanctuary, a place to get some peace, particularly early on a morning when many of us are not at our most sociable! Sharing does however make financial and environmental sense.

Not only will you save money and carbon by using less fuel, if you alternate cars then they will last much longer, meaning that ultimately you have to replace your car less often and less cars need to be produced which is a carbon intensive process. You may also be able to take advantage of as car share lane and avoid some of the rush hour congestion.

You could share with a work colleague, but equally with someone who lives near you and happens to work in the same area, such as the same city centre. There are even websites you can register with and be put in touch with others who want to share. Obviously you need to be careful when sharing with someone you don’t know.

Remove Any Excess Weight

The heavier your car is the more energy will be needed to accelerate, so the more fuel it will use. Empty it before every journey of everything you don’t need. Try to remove bike racks and roof boxes when not needed too as these will make your car less aerodynamic and increase drag.

Drive Efficiently

When accelerating and decelerating do so smoothly, allowing the engine to slow you rather than the brakes where possible. A smoother ride will use less fuel. Try to keep the revs under 3000. Going too fast causes your engine to operate less efficiently. Keeping below the speed limit, besides being safer, will use less fuel.

1 Comment to How to Save Fuel When Driving

  1. karl's Gravatar karl
    November 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi there ! When you become stationary turn off your engine straight away ( unless your in freezing conditions ) . Reaserch your car engines preferred MPG speed and try to stick to it , also try not over rev your engine when changing gear . Finally walk , cycle or take a fuel efficient bus .

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