Cars are the second-greatest cause of global warming, but life can be impractical without one. Purchasing a hybrid or purely-electric vehicle will reduce the amount of deleterious emissions you produce while driving, but there are techniques you could adopt to achieve the same effect, and invoke less cost while you’re at it. They are the motoring equivalent of fitting low-energy lightbulbs, not leaving your television on standby and insulating your hot water tank. In this article I explore how to reduce petrol consumption without having to buy a hybrid or electric vehicle.
You can maintain engine efficiency by having your car serviced regularly. It will be better if you use the appropriate specification of engine oil, as set out in the handbook.
Tyre pressure should be checked at least monthly and always prior to long journeys. If tyres are underinflated, they generate more rolling resistance and therefore lead to the consumption of an extra two or three miles per gallon of petrol. More pressure is needed for heavier loads. Nitrogen will keep tyres pressurised longer than bog standard air.
Better petrol consumption is one more reason to lose weight, if you needed one. Extra weight equals extra petrol. Additional weight is always to be avoided, be it in the shape of your car’s contents or your good self – every extra 100lb lowers fuel economy by two percent. Roof racks and boxes on the roof cause wind resistance.
Don’t start your engine until you’re ready to depart, as fuel is wasted by idling and the engine warms up faster when the car is in motion. Zero miles per gallon is a far from admirable achievement. In winter, it’s better to scrape ice off instead of relying on the heat from the car to melt it.
The insurer, Sheila’s Wheels, discovered that much time and more importantly, petrol, is wasted when people are lost. Men are less likely than women to pull over as soon as they realise that they’re geographically embarrassed, and consequently drive for an average of 276 miles a year while lost. A quarter of men can’t bring themselves to ask for directions for at least half an hour, and a tenth are too proud to ask for help at all. Two out of five men tell passengers that they know fine well where they are when they patently don’t. Journeys in unfamiliar territory should be planned to reduce the risk of becoming lost, and you shouldn’t be ashamed to ask for directions.
Keep abreast of traffic news. Cold starts result in increased petrol consumption, so combine your errands. If the journey is short, you could walk or cycle instead of taking the car, which will also better your fitness.
To avoid braking unnecessarily, it’s best to drive smoothly and read the road ahead, including leaving an adequate distance between your car and the one in front. Accelerating or decelerating too quickly worsen fuel economy by up to 33 percent on a motorway and five percent in the town, per the US Department of Energy.
Air conditioning leads to greater fuel consumption at low speeds. If it’s a hot day, you could open the windows. Windows should be shut when travelling at speeds of more than 60mph, as petrol usage is increased if they are open. The aircon shouldn’t be permanently on, but needs to be run at least once every week to keep the system in good condition. Otherwise, petrol is wasted. For the same reason, heated windscreens, demister blowers and headlights should be turned off unless they’re truly necessary.
Driving at a speed of 70mph uses as much as nine percent more petrol than doing so at 60mph and 15 percent more than at 50mph. If you’re caught in a queue, you won’t waste fuel if you turn your engine off when it looks like you’ll be waiting for more than three minutes, and these situations can often be predicted. Coasting is to be avoided, as the fuel systems of today don’t use less petrol as a result. Don’t overfill the tank, as spilled fuel evaporates and creates a needless emission.
You can track the effect of your efforts by monitoring your average petrol consumption, if your car has an onboard computer. If you car is too ancient to have a computer, you can calculate your average petrol consumption manually.
These simple ideas can make a considerable impact, saving between USD461/GBP300/EUR347 and USD538/GBP350/EUR405 a year. 50 employees of the AA took part in an experiment for Auto Express magazine, and reduced their petrol bills by an average of 10 percent and a maximum of 33 percent in this manner.
Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”