I learnt my lesson about not wasting fuel many years ago. I was driving through Yosemite National Park in California and had my air-conditioning turned right up. I didn’t realise it made the car use more fuel, and nearly ran out of petrol. I almost ended up stranded at the top of a mountain in a thunderstorm!
Lights, windscreen wipers, audio systems, air-conditioning and heating all increase your fuel consumption – and CO2 emissions. Most are essential in certain conditions, but there are other things you can do to make your driving more economical. The Unipart website has some great advice for economical driving. Here’s a selection of top tips based on their findings:
1. Accelerate slowly
It’s more economical to increase speed gradually, even though it takes longer to reach the speed you want.
2. Keep your speed down
For the average car, fuel consumption is twice as heavy at a steady 70mph than at 30mph. The best economic performance is usually around 40-60mph and 2,000 to 3,000rpm on your rev counter.
3. Learn to time your gear changes
The right moment to change up a gear is when the speed you’ve reached can be maintained in the next gear without pressing down on the accelerator. The best time to change down is when you can do so without causing a noisy, racing surge in the engine speed. (Automatics can be nearly as economical as manual cars, as long as you avoid using the ‘kick down’ too much.)
4. Anticipate when you’ll need to slow down
Gradual braking and minimum use of gears saves fuel. So look ahead to see when you’ll need to corner or come to a stop. Aim to be able to simply take your foot off the accelerator, rather than have to jam it on the brakes.
5. Choose a more economical time and route
Stop-start rush-hour driving is twice as expensive as main roads with free-flowing traffic, while high-speed motorway driving can increase costs by more than a third. Plan your route carefully and avoid congested times if possible – it’ll save you stress as well as petrol!
The North Lanarkshire Council website also provides a useful list to help you reduce the impact of your driving on the environment, and your wallet. If you have any tips of your own please post them in a comment here.