Green driving techniques

Cars are the second largest cause of global warming. Yet, as much as we would all like to help lessen the environmental effects of driving, for many of us life without a car simply isn’t practical. But, if you do have to drive (and let’s face it, almost all of us do), there are many ways to make that trip to town or drive to work more environmentally friendly.
Green driving techniquesGreen driving techniques

It’s been estimated that by changing the way you drive, you could actually use up to 25% less fuel. So, even if you haven’t got an electric or BioFuel car, you can still help cut the amount of CO2 emissions that are pumped out into the atmosphere.

We’ve put together a simple guide on how to make your current car as green as possible. If you follow it, you’ll help save the environment – and save yourself some money too.

Car maintenance

Here’s a list of things to check on a regular basis.

  • It’s important to get your car serviced at least once a year. A well maintained engine is an efficient engine.
  • Get your car’s catalytic converter checked.
  • Ensure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure. For every 7psi your tyres are under inflated, you waste half a gallon of fuel.
  • Avoid overfilling your tank. Spilled fuel evaporates into the air, releasing harmful emissions.
  • Keep your car’s bodywork, windows and lights clean – dirt increases drag. Also try to drive with the windows up – again, you’ll make the airflow around your car more efficient.
  • Reduce weight and fuel consumption by simply removing any items you don’t need for a particular trip – things such as roof racks, for example.

Things to think about before you drive

Before you set off, take a few moments to consider what your journey entails.

  • Avoid short journeys. If possible, walk or cycle – you’ll be fitter for it.
  • Your car’s engine will be colder on short journeys – this can double fuel consumption.
  • Short journeys can also shorten the life of your engine and catalytic converter. The first kilometre driven produces 60% more fumes and the lubricants in your engine haven’t reached working temperature, so engine wear is higher. Catalytic converters are only effective after the first five miles.
  • Try to avoid queuing. It wastes fuel and costs money. Check traffic reports before you set off.
  • Only travel in rush hour if you absolutely have to.
  • Know where you’re going. Motorists waste 350,000 tonnes of fuel every year, simply by getting lost.
  • When starting, remember not to idle your engine for any more than 30 seconds. An idling engine produces 80% more CO2 than when a vehicle is on the move.

On the road

OK, so you’ve got an eco-friendly, well maintained car and you know what to consider before you sit behind the wheel and turn the ignition key. Now let’s look at how much greener you can be when you’re actually out on the road.

  • Drive smoothly and calmly – pulling away too fast can use up to 60% more fuel.
  • Slow down – driving at 70mph can use up to 30% more fuel than driving at 50mph.
  • Avoid heavy braking – it simply wastes energy.
  • If your car has air conditioning, try not to use it – your fuel consumption will increase by 15% if you do.
  • In fact, all electronics use extra fuel.
  • Keep your windows shut and use air vents instead.
  • Change gear between 1,500 and 2,500 rpm – you can save up to 30% of fuel by doing so.
  • If you find yourself sat stationary, it’s best to switch your engine off. You use more fuel with your engine idling for 45 seconds, than if you turn your engine off and restart it 45 seconds later.

By following this simple and sensible advice, you can significantly lessen the impact of your driving on the environment. And to end on, here’s a fact to think about. The European Climate Change Programme has calculated, that if eco-driving techniques were adopted across all EU member states, we could save up to 25 billion litres of fuel by 2010. Fuel for thought, indeed.


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