Reduce the cost of motoring with Eco driving tips

Posted on March 22nd, 2011 by David Williams MBE

The A337 at Brockis Hill, New Forest

The cost of motoring can have an impact on both our wallets and on the environment. The good news is that by using strategies to reduce our current vehicles’ impact on the environment, we can save money, too.

By adopting the principles of Eco Driving, you should be able to reduce fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and your likelihood of being involved in an accident. By adopting smooth and safe driving techniques, you can save on average 5-10% on your fuel bill.

The Golden Rules of Eco Driving

ecodrive.org suggest you should:

  • Change up a gear as soon as possible: Change up a gear when you hit 2,000 to 2,500 revs, to minimise internal friction in the engine
  • Maintain a steady speed: Use the highest gear possible, driving with the lowest RPM
  • Anticipate traffic flow: Look ahead to avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. As well as a smoother driving or riding experience, it should lead to lower fuel consumption and even fewer accidents
  • Decelerate smoothly: Take your foot off the accelerator when slowing down for a red light or a junction. Leave the car in gear and decelerate smoothly
  • Check your tyre pressures frequently: Tyre pressures that are 25% too low increase rolling resistance by 10% and fuel consumption by 2%. And, of course, correctly inflated tyres have a longer life and provide a more comfortable ride and optimum roadholding.

Some more ways to save fuel

Drive slower because at high speeds, air resistance and friction in the engine increase. Travelling at 50mph uses 15% less fuel than 70mph, and any speed over 45mph sees wind resistance and engine friction increase, leading to increased fuel consumption.

Take a look in your boot, back seat and foot wells. Are you carrying unnecessary weight such as unneeded tools (you don’t need your full toolkit in a heavy case – indeed you may decide to leave any on-the-move maintenance to your breakdown provider), clutter and luggage that has taken up residence in your car. All of these add to the weight of your vehicle and to the fuel consumption.

While you’re considering unnecessary weight, think about unnecessary drag, too. Roof racks, bike carriers and roof boxes all significantly affect your car’s dynamics, so increasing fuel consumption. Remove them if they’re not in use.

Turn off your engine if you’re stationary – in a serious traffic jam, while waiting for a level crossing or just sitting in a car park. There’s little point in using fuel when you’re travelling nowhere.

If you plan ahead, you can avoid congestion and road works. And try to keep your car for longer journeys, because a cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel as a warm one, while catalytic converters only become effective after five miles of driving.

A few simple steps such as these and a little driving skills refinement can help the planet and your pocket. If you wish to know more about how Eco driving can save you money, read GEM’s top tips here. Why not start applying them now?