Churchill magazine

How to save money while saving the planet

Updated on: 8 October 2020

saving money driving

Three times world champion Formula One driver Jackie Stewart has been quoted as saying that we should ‘Drive like the world’s finest chauffeur’, and he’s right. Driving a car properly and economically is all about smoothness. Sudden acceleration, braking and not anticipating what the traffic is doing costs petrol.

Dr. Dick Turner’s book, Energy Conservation Through Advanced Driving Techniques, asks drivers to imagine that an egg is positioned between the foot and the accelerator pedals. So don’t make too many omelettes. Research reveals that a smoother driving style saves 10% in urban areas and 6% out of town.

How can you save on fuel?

The more weight a car has to move around the more fuel it uses. Clear out the boot and interior of unwanted clutter. Also if you are not using a roof rack, ski box or trailer – take them off. You will get fewer miles per litre with a fully loaded roof rack.

Plan your journey
Time spent getting lost and finding your way again will waste fuel.

Tyre pressure
Check that your tyre pressures are as the manufacturer recommends in the car’s handbook. If the pressure is 4-6psi below the correct pressure fuel consumption suffers by 2-3%.

Turn off
If you are stationary in traffic for more than a minute turn off the engine. Not only are you doing no miles to the litre at idle, subsequently restarting the car uses less fuel.

Get going
Modern cars do not need to be warmed up. Start the car and move off ASAP.

Don’t leave the car running
Start the car and get into the highest gear you can as soon as possible. At 37mph in third gear you will be using 25% more fuel than in fifth gear.

Only use what you need
Every ancillary component that you switch on, whether it is the radio, air conditioning or electric windows drains power and fuel.

Service your car
Sounds obvious, but skimping on basic maintenance means that the car will be operating much less efficiently and that means poor fuel consumption. 

Calculate your consumption
You won’t know if your new driving style and practices are working unless you know how many litres you get per mile. Some cars may have on-board computers, which are not always accurate. First fill the tank, zero the trip meter and note the mileage. Go on a long journey, 50-100 miles. Fill the tank again and note the amount of litres taken. Finally divide the number of miles driven by the amount of fuel used.

Driving ‘greener’ can also help you save money

Helping the environment isn’t the only positive part of driving greener. If you burn less fuel, you need to buy less petrol. So you can save money and save the planet. We’d also like to save you some time by giving you some easy tips for reducing your fuel consumption...

Remove roof racks
Roof racks and boxes cause drag and your car’s engine will have to work harder to move the car if a roof rack or box is in place.

Shut the windows
Open windows and sun roofs also cause drag and result in the engine working harder and burning more fuel.

Turn off the air con
Air conditioning in a car relies on the engine working harder to support it. Turn off the air con when you don’t need it.

Check your tyre pressure
If your tyres aren’t inflated to the correct pressure, they could be causing more fuel to be burnt as they drag on the roads.

Car share
Try not to take more cars than are necessary. Share cars and take it in turns to pick each other up.

Consider economical cars
When the time comes for you to sell your car and look for another one, consider more economical models. It could save a lot of money in the long run.

Slow down
The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Slow down and cut your fuel usage.

Group your journeys
Rather than going out, coming home and going out again, group your journeys together to cut down on the time you’re out on the roads. It takes more energy to get a car moving once it’s stopped and you may even find you save on your car insurance by cutting down on your average annual mileage.

Avoid rush hour
Rather than leaving home and sitting in traffic for hours, leave a little earlier or later if possible and try to miss the rush hour. As well as reducing your journey time and so reducing your fuel consumption, you’ll also arrive a little less stressed.

Walk
If you’re not going far why not leave the car at home? Not only will you be saving fuel, but walking is brilliant exercise too.

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