Top 10 eco driving tips for fuel economy
- Close your windows on the motorway Personally, I like having my windows down all the time for fresh air. But if you’re driving at high speeds — 70mph on the motorway, say — having windows open increases drag, which cuts your fuel economy. Just closing your windows at speed can cut your cut your fuel consumption and carbon emissions by a whopping ten per cent.
- Share your car Seventy-one per cent of us still get to work by car, like it or not. One way to cut emissions per person and fuel bills by 50 per cent is to add another passenger — If you live in the Midlands, you’ll also be able to enjoy Birmingham’s congestion-free car-sharing lane if there’s more than one person in your car. If you really can’t face the prospect of sharing a ride, maybe you could share a car?
- Get into second and fourth fast That’s what I was told on an eco-driving trainers course some time ago. I was particularly guilty of this one, cruising around in third in built-up areas so I could slow down and speed up fast. The EU, however, recommends getting into high gears as early as possible because they’re more economical with fuel.
- Don’t stop if you can help it Another one from an eco-driving colleague: roll towards queues, never rush to join them. Look far ahead down the road rather than just at the car in front of you, and anticipate changes at traffic lights. Ditto, don’t stop at a roundabout if you have a clear line of sight and continuing without stopping is the safe option. Obviously, safety’s paramount, so don’t take risks — just avoid unnecessarily coming to a halt. [This one’s classic driving-instructor advice, but useful nonetheless].
- Accelerate gently, brake gently Are you really going to get there quicker by putting your foot to the floor? Probably not if you’re driving in the UK. Accelerating and braking smoothly can cut your emissions significantly. To help you avoid braking unnecessarily, use this rule of thumb. For every 10mph you’re doing, leave that many car’s lengths between you and the car in front — so if you’re doing 30mph, leave three lengths. For 40, leave four, and so on.
- Go easy on the air con If you’re on the motorway and it’s hot, there’s not a lot you can do about this (see tip one). But if you’re going slow, just wind down the windows. Using air con unnecessarily adds five per cent to your CO2 emissions.
- Keep tyres pumped The tricky thing with tyres is you can’t always see if your tyres are under-inflated, so you’ll need to check in regularly at the local garage. Under-inflated tyres up your emissions by three per cent, so it’s worth the effort.
- Clean junk out of the boot There are no stats for how much this’ll save you in fuel, but it’s common sense — a heavier car’s going to mean heavier fuel consumption. That’s why sports-car-makers like Lotus make their cars incredibly lightweight. To make your car a little more like a Lotus, clear out wellies, picnic rugs and other clutter from your boot; do you really need them for the daily commute.
- ‘Good driving is eco driving’ That’s what motorsport commentator Murray Walker once said in an interview about eco-driving. “You can get there just as quickly and save fuel and CO2 emissions by driving smoothly,” Walker said. If you’re not in a rush, don’t do 90 on the motorway, do 70. For many cars, 45-50mph is the most efficient speed.
- Ditch the roof-rack An obvious one, but often forgotten – after that trip camping in the Lake District – A roof rack increases wind resistance, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Store it all in the garage when it’s not being used.