Do you ‘drive green’? If not, you’re not alone. Millions of motorists are failing to take even simple steps to reduce the environmental impact of their driving with a recent survey from Continental Tyres finding that two in five people admit to being clueless when it comes to ‘eco-driving’.
Poor driving can also cost money as well as the environment. The Continental Tyres survey also found that poor driving costs more than £1 billion a year – or £18,000 over the driving lifetime of the average motorist (at today’s fuel prices).
However, it is possible to be more environmentally responsible while driving and this can also help you to cut your fuel bill. The Energy Saving Trust says that ‘by driving smarter the average UK driver could save between £300 and £350 each year.’
We outline six simple steps that can help you to reduce your impact on the environment while driving.
The Guardian reports that ‘a car speeding at 80mph uses 10 per cent more fuel than one cruising at 70mph, according to the Department for Transport.’ And, driving at 70mph uses up to 9 per cent more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15 per cent more than at 50mph.
A simple way to reduce the amount of fuel that you use is to slow down. Experts advise that you keep below around 65mph on motorways and duel carriageways to cut your fuel consumption. Of 15,000 drivers who took part in a recent AA survey, 59 per cent said they would think about slowing down if it saved them money.
Remove excess weight
Carrying extra weight in your vehicle means that you will use extra fuel. So, if there’s anything in the boot you don’t need on the journey take it out.
According to the Save Petrol website, on average, every 50kg of weight will increase your petrol consumption by 2 per cent. The Guardian also reports that ‘carrying around the extra weight of fuel in a full tank will itself reduce fuel efficiency, so don’t fill your tank up to the brim.’
Check your vehicle regularly and get it serviced
You should also check your tyre pressure regularly and before long journeys. If your tyres are under-inflated, they create more rolling resistance and use more fuel. Under-inflated tyres are dangerous and can alone increase fuel consumption by up to 15 percent.
Anything that increases your vehicle’s wind resistance will increase fuel consumption. So, to be more environmentally responsible, reduce the aerodynamic ‘drag’ on your car. For example, remove roof racks and roof boxes if you don’t need them and keep your window closed at higher speeds.
Flags and some sun roofs also increase your car’s aerodynamic drag and increase fuel consumption.
Control your acceleration and braking
Driving more smoothly can make you a greener driver. This means that you should always try and keep the car moving and avoid braking suddenly or accelerating sharply.
Use your gears to slow your vehicle rather than the brakes and use gravity on slopes to start your vehicle rolling rather than using the accelerator. You should also consider missing out gears when accelerating or braking to reduce wear and tear.
Try not to accelerate sharply and change up gears at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm in a diesel car or around 2,500 rpm in a petrol car. Experts believe that this make such a difference to your fuel consumption that cars in the future are likely to be fitted with a ‘gear shift indicator’ light to show the most efficient gear change points.
Turn off your in-car electrics
Electrical loads increase the environmental impact of your vehicle by using more fuel, so turn them off when you don’t need them.
Switch off demisters, air conditioning, headlights, the radio and your heated rear windscreen when you are not using them.
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