Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Energy Saving Week – Greener Driving

Today Katharine Robinson aims to give you some EcoDriving tips to save fuel, money and needless CO2 emissions. This post is part of a series for The Energy Saving Trust’s Energy Saving Week, running from October 20th – 26th.


Many employees commute to work. The days when everyone worked within walking distance from their home have been gone for a long time.

From www.freeimages.co.uk

The talent shortage plaguing the Renewable Energy industry often means that talent has to be tempted from far and wide. This may mean colleagues at your company commute a long way to the office or the projects they are working on. This can prove very costly, in terms of money and emissions.

We heard a couple of weeks ago that the driving test is to include a nod to green concerns. At this stage, instructors will only be offering feedback on how green the new motorist’s driving technique is. This news coincides with an announcement from the DfT that they will be putting an extra £3m into promoting greener driving techniques. According to statistics from the DfT, a month or more of fuel can be saved each year by following the techniques outlined in its Act On CO2 campaign.

I have been out looking for precise tips that you can easily follow, this is what I have found;

  1. Clear all the junk out of your car! Hauling extra weight around is using up more fuel. When you get home tonight, empty out the boot before you even go inside. Start saving immediately before even changing any driving habits.

  2. Decrease drag
    a. Take the roof rack off – the drag it (and anything tied to it) creates is epic. Only put on a roof rack when you are using it or, even better, don’t use it at all.
    b. Wind up the windows. Do you really need to be gangsta-leaning down the road? It’s a lot greener and more professional to arrive with your hair-do intact.

  3. Pump up your tyres. I always wondered why my granddad uses less fuel than me. It turns out that he gives his motor a weekly service. This involves checking his tyre pressures. The engine has to work a lot harder to propel you along the road if your tyres are a little squiffy – so get out your manual, check what is optimum and get the foot pump out. It’s good exercise too!

  4. No Electrical Gadgets! Are you always bombing along with the air-con fighting the open window, your ipod or phone charging in the cigarette lighter socket and the in-car sat-nav telling you to turn left even though you know exactly where you are going? Stop it! Turn it all off. Only use the sat-nav if you get lost (saving you miles of fuel), get a little solar charger for your ipod and wind up the window. You will be pleased to know that the power used by the radio is negligible and therefore has no real effect on the engine performance.
Now onto some tips that require a little thought when you are behind the wheel.

  1. Keep your revs low. Changing gear a little earlier ensures that your revs and fuel consumption stay low and you don’t guzzle fuel. The AA’s Drive Smart advice recommends that you change up at approx 2500 rpm in a petrol car and 2000 rpm in a diesel. My little Renault Clio is perfectly happy to make changes even earlier than this. It reduces engine ware too.

  2. Stick to the speed limit! This is good advice anyway – you can save money in speeding tickets too. The faster you drive the thirstier your car is for fuel. 70mph uses 9% more fuel than 60mph and as much as 15% more than 50mph.

  3. Keep moving. It will probably mean slowing down sooner, but the stopped traffic will have started moving again before you get there. The more you start and stop the more fuel you use, so try to keep creeping along.

  4. Leave the car in gear. When you coast modern cars still use fuel to prevent stalling. So stay in gear with your foot off the accelerator and get metres for free!

  5. Plan your journey. Got several chores to do? Try not to go out more than once but plan your journey to have the shortest route. Not only will you save time but you will use less fuel and save your car from unnecessary wear and tear.

You may recall a very entertaining Top-Gear challenge from a few years ago. It seems Jeremy discovered a number of the same tips when he drove from London to Edinburgh and back again on just one tank of fuel! If you have not seen it, I managed to track it down on Youtube.

I hope that you have managed to take something away from these tips and that you will now go a little further for your £1.

If you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment.

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