If you want to be an greener driver, helping the environment and cutting fuel costs, then a big factor is definitely the type of vehicle you drive, with new eco-friendly models already making big differences.
But it’s not just about the type of motor you own – it’s how you drive your car and how you make the most of your fuel. Read on for the definitive guide to all the top eco driving tips. They’re all sure fire eco ways to save you money and fuel.
Applying these simple eco driving tips could save you between 10 and 33% on your motoring fuel bill, which could amount to £100s a year*.
Prior planning and preparation…
Avoid short journeys
Try and avoid short journeys as a cold engine will use almost double the fuel per mile than a warm engine. Catalytic converters also take about 6 miles to start kicking in properly.
Make shorter trips count more
If you’ve got to make short trips, combine local errands to make for a more efficient journey and avoid lots of fuel-sapping cold engine starts.
Plan your route carefully
Check traffic reports before you set off to avoid wasting fuel at roadworks or in congested areas. You’ll also avoid getting lost and wasting fuel trying to find your way again!
Take off your roof rack when it’s not needed
Reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency by taking off unused roof racks, bike holders and the like.
Don’t carry stuff you don’t need
Heavier cars will use more fuel so take out any heavy items from the boot that you don’t need.
Start your journey the right way
Don’t bother warming up your engine
Forget what you might have been told in the past – modern cars don’t need their engines warmed. Doing this will just waste fuel and wear out your engine.
Don’t reverse out of parking spaces
Reversing from cold uses up more fuel than pulling off in first gear, so when you’re parking try to reverse into parking bays so you’re set up for an eco getaway.
Scrape the ice before you start the engine
In the winter, scrape ice and frost off the car window before switching on the engine – idling will just waste fuel.
Tweak your driving technique
Keep a steady speed
Driving at around 45 to 50mph is the most efficient speed, fuel wise, but make sure you’re keeping to the speed limit. Driving at 70mph uses up to 15% more fuel than cruising along at 50.
If you drive smoothly and sensibly you’ll save fuel. Avoid rapid acceleration or braking – if you’re coming up to a junction, let the car’s momentum take you there instead of keeping your foot on the pedal all the way there then braking suddenly.
Avoid stopping when you can
Stopping and starting uses more fuel than keeping your motor rolling – a smoother driving technique as mentioned above will help you avoid this.
Read the road
Look ahead – if you see the lights are changing to red, take your foot off the accelerator and coast to a stop rather than unnecessarily using fuel to get there.
Don’t rev too high when changing gears
With a petrol car, keep your revs at around 2,000rpm to 2,500rpm when changing gear to maximise efficiency. If you’ve a diesel engine, then change gear before you hit 2,000rpm.
Take it easy downhill
Take your foot off and keep in gear when you’re going downhill – you’ll then be using pretty much no fuel at all. But don’t ‘coast’ with the car out of gear – it’s unsafe as you won’t have full control of the vehicle and with modern engines, won’t save you fuel either.
Change up the gears faster
Get out of first gear and into second quicker, and don’t hang around in third gear when you could be using fourth.
Go smooth on the speed bumps
Avoid the temptation to accelerate between speed bumps then brake sharply. Keep a low, constant speed to save fuel and your nerves!
Use cruise control
If your car’s got cruise control and it’s safe to use it, do so. It’ll maintain a steady and more efficient stream of fuel to the engine.
Fuel saving tips for the journey
Switch off your engine when you’re stuck in traffic
With modern cars you won’t use up more fuel by switching your engine on and off when in traffic. So turn the key to off if you’re going to be stationary in traffic for more than 2 or 3 minutes.
Cut down on the air conditioning
Air conditioning adds to fuel costs and CO2 emissions. Try winding down the windows instead if you’re not going too fast. It’s less fuel hungry at higher speeds, though, so save the air con for the motorway. You should also run the a/c for a short while about once a week to keep it working properly and efficiently.
Close windows at speed
Opening windows when you’re on the motorway or a fast stretch of road will increase drag and fuel consumption – this is when air conditioning becomes a more efficient option.
Be sparing with the electrics
Demisters, headlights, heated windscreens and all your in-car electrics don’t come without a price – they all guzzle the fuel. So remember to switch them off when not needed.
Keep your car in fuel saving condition
Keep your tyres inflated
Under-inflated tyres are a sure recipe for decreased fuel efficiency – check them at least once a month and keep them pumped up to the manufacturer’s specifications. You could end up using up to 3% extra fuel otherwise.
Get your car serviced regularly
If your car and its engine is in tip top condition it’ll be working most efficiently, and therefore cheaply.
Use the right oil
Using the correct type of engine oil will make your car more efficient and save fuel. The car’s handbook should say what type to go for.
Keep your windows clean
If your front and rear windows are nice and clean they’re less likely to get all misty. You’ll then avoid having to use fuel-sapping demisters.
By following these eco driving tips you can save money as well as ensuring your car is in good working order.
* Source – How to cut up to £1000 from your family fuel bill – AA