The reduction in petrol duty might help you in the short term, but ‘hypermilers’ know other ways to save and reduce emissions
On Wednesday, the chancellor announced in the budget that he was reducing petrol duty by 1p per litre and scrapping the 5p per litre fuel-escalator rise scheduled for next month. But “hypermilers” say there are many others ways for motorists to save money – and reduce emissions – simply by reappraising the way you drive.
1. To maximise your fuel efficiency, the Energy Saving Trust recommends trying to change up a gear before you reach 2,500 revs in a petrol car, and 2,000 in a diesel car. Changing gears like this can help you achieve a 15% fuel saving, according to UK Road Safety, the Bristol-based instructors who offer “eco driving” courses.
2. Try to anticipate the road ahead as much as you can. By driving as smoothly as possible – avoiding breaking or accelerating hard – you will save fuel and reduce maintenance costs.
3. Car heaters don’t, in general, use up much fuel as they recycle the heat from the engine. But the opposite is true with air-conditioning. At speeds less than 40mph, opening the window slightly won’t really affect fuel use, but air conditioning increases fuel use at all speeds.
4. Modern cars do not need to “warm up” before driving off. Equally, revving or idling an engine before you move is pointless and just wastes fuel. Drive away as soon as you start the engine. However, it can take a car up to 8km before the engine is running at maximum efficiency, meaning short journeys are far more fuel intensive per kilometre than long distance journeys.
5. Remove roof racks and boxes when not in use as they cause considerable drag.
6. Strip any excessive weight from your car – even fuel. Every 45kg removed from the car can save 1% on fuel. It could be worth experimenting with not filling your tank to the top and instead filling more often.
7. The Energy Saving Trust says that the most efficient speed you can travel in a car in terms of achieving the best fuel economy is 55-65mph. Any faster, though, and the fuel efficiency decreases rapidly. For example, driving at 85mph uses 40% more fuel than at 70mph (oh, and it’s illegal too).
8. Don’t slip into neutral when travelling in the belief you are saving fuel. Choose the appropriate gear for your speed instead. Modern fuel-injected cars consume proportionately more fuel when in neutral as they perceive the car to be idling.
9. Plan ahead to avoid travelling during the most congested periods of traffic. Stop-start driving is among the most fuel intensive forms of car travel. If you are motionless for any longer than 10 seconds, it is more fuel efficient to switch the engine off than to idle.
10. Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%, so check their pressure regularly.
11. “Drafting” or slip-streaming behind other vehicles to help save fuel is a technique Formula 1 drivers adopt, but it is highly dangerous and frowned upon by road safety experts. Similarly, switching off the engine whilst moving and coasting to a stop is also deemed to be extremely reckless.
12. And a tip for both fashionistas and motorists alike: “Don’t drive in big shoes,” says hypermiler.co.uk. “They take away the sensitivity you need with the throttle.”