Driving more fuel-efficiently not only cuts down on the burning of emissions that contribute to climate change, it saves money on petrol – with transport being the second-biggest expense for most households – and makes for safer driving too.
Choosing a hybrid or electric model next time you’re replacing your car is an environmentally-friendly move, as are leaving the car at home when you can walk or cycle instead, and ride-sharing – but in the meantime, when you do need to drive, follow these ten tips for cutting carbon output and you could save up to 15p on every litre of fuel you use, according to estimates from the Energy Saving Trust, as well as making an annual reduction of 425kgCO2.
Many newer cars automatically switch the engine off when stationary in neutral. If yours doesn’t, turn off the engine if you think you’ll be stopped for over a minute or so, at traffic lights or in a jam, to save fuel – leaving the engine idling is a waste of fuel.
Put yourself on the map
For unfamiliar journeys make sure you plan your route in advance to avoid getting lost and wasting fuel, and also to make sure you’re using the most efficient route – you could use SatNav, a mapping app, printed directions from Google, or even an actual map made from paper.
Kick it into high gear
Driving at lower revs reduces fuel consumption, saving on emissions, so change up a gear at around 2,000 RPM.
Play it smooth
Assess the road ahead of you as much as possible to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration, both of which increase the amount of fuel you use – this also helps makes you a safer driver.
Take it slow
Fuel costs increase with speed, so the slower you drive the more you save, and the safer you are on the road.
Fresh air versus air con
When travelling at low speed opening the windows is more efficient at cooling the car, but if you’re going 60 miles per hour or above then closing the windows and using the air conditioning will save you more.
Feel the pressure
Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and can also be dangerous on the road, so check your tyre pressure once a month and before making long journeys – properly inflated tyres grip the road better and reduce fuel usage.
Up on the roof
Keeping roof racks or boxes attached to your car increases drag and ups your fuel costs, so save money and emissions by storing them when you don’t need to use them.
Take a load off
Travelling with a full load increases your fuel costs – the heavier the car, the heavier the emissions.
Remove what you don’t need from your car to cut down on excess weight.
Embrace being high-maintenance
Get your car serviced regularly, sticking to the manufacturer’s schedule, to make sure the engine is working as efficiently as possible, and to keep you and your passengers safe.
• This article was produced in partnership with the Scottish Government.