Fuel Efficiency: The Economic and Environmental Breakdown
By making your vehicle more fuel efficient you are not only going to be saving money you will also be lowering your carbon footprint and making a contribution to preserving natural resources.
Truck Locator offers a comprehensive guide to improving fuel efficiency and whilst this is catered towards lorries and trucks, many of the tips are going to be relevant for a broad range of vehicles.
There are two ways to improve fuel efficiency dramatically and those are either by purchasing a newer model of vehicle, which is inherently more fuel efficient, or by making modifications to your current vehicle and your driving style.
Purchasing a Vehicle
If you decide to take the route of purchasing a vehicle and you choose to buy new, you are going to have a wide choice of engine style including: petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric. These are all going to come in at different costs and you are going to need to weigh up a higher initial financial outlay but lower running costs, against a cheaper vehicle but more expensive fuelling options.
There is also some controversy about how green electric cars really are when you factor in the distance the parts have covered before they even make it into your vehicle. This is a complex area however, but the BBC offered an interesting comparison in an article last year.
You may also decide to purchase a ‘new to you’ vehicle and buy used. Whichever option you take, overall the smaller the engine size in a vehicle the more fuel efficient it will be. There is also going to be a wide variation between vehicle models in both the car tax for UK roads and in fuel efficiency. DirectGov provides detailed information on both fuel efficiency and car tax on new and used vehicles and this is definitely worth investigating before you make a final decision.
Vehicle Modifications and Driving Style
If you decide to stick with your current vehicle or even if you want to improve your driving habits in a new car, implementing any of the following will save on fuel.
Don’t Idle For Too Long
If you have stopped your vehicle for more than a minute or two then switch off your engine to save fuel. This is done for you automatically in many new models of car as they will automatically turn off in neutral.
A defensive driving style, where you watch the road for upcoming hazards and changes to traffic flow, will not only keep you safer on the road but it will also make your journey more fuel efficient. You will be braking and accelerating less harshly, which in turn lowers the amount of fuel you use.
Watch Your Gear Changes
It is better for fuel consumption to drive when the rev range is lower, therefore change gear at 2,000 RPM or in that region.
Don’t Take It Too Fast
Speed is a big factor in many accidents so by following this guideline you will be keeping you and others on the road safe, whilst lowering your costs. The faster you drive the more your fuel costs increase. It’s a startling statistic but even just dropping your speed from 56mph to 50mph can save you up to 22% in fuel consumption.
Use Air Conditioning at High Speeds
Many of us believe that turning the air conditioning off will save fuel and this is true when we are driving under 60 mph. At this speed it is better to wind the windows down and get some fresh air. However, over 60mph having your windows down causes more drag and therefore increases fuel consumption, so at this speed and above it is better to close the windows and switch over to air conditioning.
Lowering Drag Resistance
In fact lowering your drag resistance is one of the key ways to increase fuel efficiency, so make sure you have the following covered:
• Check your tyre pressure and tyre wear regularly. Too low tyre pressure can cause an accident and it can also cause drag, making your engine work harder, increasing fuel costs. It will also wear your tyres more quickly so you have to spend more on new ones.
• Do you really need that roof or bicycle rack attached to the car all the time? Again, they increase drag, so remove them when not in use.
• Drive light and take anything out of the car that isn’t essential. Don’t fill your boot with boxes and use it as a storage area, this is costing more than you might imagine.
Implementing any or all of these changes will definitely have an impact on your fuel consumption. Make sure that you check your miles per gallon average, both before and after the changes are made, as when you can clearly see the money you are saving it will only go further to motivate you in improving your driving style.