Green (and money-saving) driving tips
So what if you don’t have a Toyota Prius or a Nissan Leaf yet, it’s still possible to be a more eco-conscious driver (and save money along the way).
Think Green and chances are you’ll be thinking of either added hassle or a political party who failed to win a single seat at the next general election.
Either way, you’re unlikely to get too excited about becoming more green friendly – especially given that green products tend to cost more.
But in the world of motoring, making green decisions are becoming increasingly important for the simple reason that, in the long run, petrol prices are only going to go one way, and that way is up.
Obviously, the best way to save money is to drive less. But cycling or walking may not always be an option.
Car manufacturers are working hard to make their cars more and more energy efficient – and are doing a pretty good job of it with the likes of the all-electric Nissan Leaf, the upcoming high-performance BMW i8 and umpteen hybrids including the daddy of them all, the Toyota Prius.
That’s great if you’re in the market for a funky new eco-car, but even if you’re not about to change your wheels there are some quick fixes you can do that will not only help to save the planet, but will also save you a few quid. Nice.
Gaybo is right. We do drive too fast. And studies show that for every 5mph we drive above the optimum cruising speed of 55mph then we’re losing around 10 per cent fuel efficiency.
If you want to seriously burn some rubber, then book a day at a race track. As a separate cost incentive, just think of all the speeding tickets you’ll avoid having to shell out for.
Yes, you’ll feel like a drag racer if you pull away from the lights with a screech of your tyres and then slam on the brakes at the next junction... but you’ll look like a knob.
Plus you’ll save up to 30% fuel by smoothly and calmly making your way up and down the gears.
Quite often you’ll find that if you keep it fairly steady and within the speed limit, you’re more likely to hit a row of green lights (well, at least that should be the case).
The higher the better
If you’re driving a manual car, don’t wait for it to sound as if a chicken’s being choked under the bonnet before you change gear.
Cars are more fuel efficient in a higher gear, so when you’re up to speed, pick the gear with the lowest engine RPM and you’ll burn the least amount of fuel, while reducing the emissions from your exhaust.
Stop when you stop
When you stop for more than a few seconds, turn off your engine – there’s a reason why a lot of new cars are being fitted with stop/start technology that automatically turns off the engine after you’ve been stood at the lights for around five seconds.
Once your engine has warmed up you can save up to 19% by not letting your car idle when you’re at a standstill.
Ditch the rack
Car manufacturers spend a small fortune in wind tunnels perfecting the aerodynamics of their cars, so it figures that sticking a roof rack on top of your car, or even flying a flag, will have a negative effect on your car’s ability to move forward with the minimum of drag.
Don’t leave a roof rack on your car unless it’s in use, and don’t fly a flag unless it’s the day of a very big match (or the day after your team win a very big match).