How to save energy when you drive

The home isn’t the only place where you can save energy. According to a study by the AA, you can save as much as 33% on fuel just by making a few changes to your driving habits.

Check your tyres

As well as being dangerous, worn or under-inflated tyres can reduce fuel efficiency. Check your tyre pressure regularly – especially before a long journey.

Check your oil

Make sure you have the right amount of oil in your engine (especially if you own an older vehicle) and be sure to use the correct type of oil. Check your manufacturer’s handbook if you are unsure which specification you should be using.

Get your car serviced regularly

Most manufacturers recommend getting your car serviced every twelve months or every 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Lose weight

The more weight your car is carrying, the more fuel you will use. If an item doesn’t need to be in your car, leave it at home.

Your car doesn’t need to warm up

This is an old practice that belongs in the past. Experts say that modern engines need no more than 30 seconds to warm up, and that your car will warm up more quickly when it’s moving anyway. There’s no need to start the car several minutes before travelling – doing so will simply waste fuel.

Scrape ice in the winter

Using a scraper or a de-icer spray is better than leaving the car idling and waiting for the ice to melt.

Plan ahead

Getting lost and/or stuck in slow moving traffic wastes fuel. Plan your route and check the traffic news before setting off on a long journey.

Smoothly does it

Rapid starting and stopping eats up a lot of fuel. Pull away gently, look ahead and anticipate hazards to avoid harsh braking. Try to avoid coming to a complete stop by approaching junctions slowly and looking ahead.

Change gear early

The AA recommends changing gear when your revs reach around 2,000 rpm (in a diesel car) or 2,500 (petrol).

Be careful with the air con

Turning on the air conditioning causes your car to use more fuel. At low speeds, it may be better to just open a window instead. Save the air con for higher speeds, where opening a window would create extra drag and hamper your fuel efficiency.

Turn off unnecessary electrics

Your car’s electrical systems draw power from the battery, which in turn is charged-up by using fuel. Turn off things like lights, window heaters and de-misters if you don’t need them.

Things you shouldn’t do:

Coasting – Some people believe that rolling along out of gear will save fuel. According to the AA, the fuel savings are negligible (especially in modern cars) and it’s dangerous, as you don’t have full control of the vehicle.

Turning off your engine instead of idling – This is only advisable if you expect to be stopped for over 3 minutes (for example at a level crossing or in heavily gridlocked traffic), your engine is warm, and you have a good battery. Otherwise, the extra fuel needed to start your engine again will negate any fuel saved by switching it off. It’s also not kind to your battery.

Over to you!

Do you have any eco-driving tips of your own? Let us know in the comments section.

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