Fuel Efficient Driving

My colleague and I in front of a display I made on fuel efficient driving.

There are many modes of transport we can use from A to B.

Walking, cycling and using public transport are low-carbon alternatives to using private vehicles (plus walking and cycling can have bonus health benefits). Using low-carbon transport options is an important part of creating a more sustainable future.

However, for some of us car use is sometimes unavoidable.

When this is the case, here are some ways to reduce the environmental impact of driving (relevant to petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles)…


Driving Patterns

  1. Carpool where possible. Carpooling is more environmentally friendly (and cheaper) than driving alone as it reduces congestion and means fewer vehicles are on the road. This means fewer carbon dioxide emissions. It is also cheaper as you can share fuel and parking costs.
  2. Consider car sharing or cooperatively owning vehicles. Many localities already have established car sharing initiatives, so you might want to check out what is happening in your region.

Driving Behaviours

  1. Journey Plan. Vehicles are less fuel-efficient and more polluting at the start of trips and on short trips. Trips of less than 5km usually do not allow for the engine to reach peak operating temperature. SOLUTION: Plan to do a number of errands in one trip, rather than several trips. to save time and fuel.
  2. Don’t speed. Fuel consumption increases significantly above 100km/h. At 110km/h many cars use 25% more fuel than they would at 90km/h. Many cars are most fuel efficient at 50km/h and 95km/h. SOLUTION: Drive at or slightly below the speed limit for optimal fuel-efficiency and safety.
  3. Don’t idle. Contrary to popular belief, most cars (all modern cars) do not need to be ‘warmed up’ before setting off… it simply wastes fuel. The same goes for switching the engine off and on again. SOLUTION: If you will be idling for more than 15 seconds, it will use less fuel to switch the vehicle off and on again.
  4. Drive Smoothly. Stop/start driving is up to 30% less efficient and more polluting than driving smoothly at more constant speeds. SOLUTION: Avoid travelling trough congested roads whenever possible. ALSO, avoid unnecessary accelerating and braking by keeping safe distances and anticipating traffic.
  5. Minimise aerodynamic drag. Additional parts on the exterior of the vehicle (roof racks, trailers, spoilers, etc.) increase wind resistance and fuel consumption. SOLUTION: Don’t use them when you don’t need them. Also, to cool off below 70km/h it is more fuel efficient to wind the window down. After 70km/h, the air resistance created by open windows is greater than the energy needed to use air conditioning. SOLUTION: Below 70km/h, cool off with the window down. Above 70km/h, use the A/C.
  6. Keep your car light. Every additional 10kg in your vehicle decreases fuel efficiency by 2%. SOLUTION: Avoid transporting items you do not need for a particular trip.

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Vehicle Maintenance

  1. Keep your vehicle tuned and regularly maintained. A well tuned engine runs more efficiently and is less polluting.
  2. Look after tyres: * Inflate your tyres regularly (monthly) to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacturer. * Make sure wheels are properly aligned (every 10,000km). Looking after tyres will not only reduce fuel consumption but also increase their life.

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It is also important to remember the best way to reduce emissions associated with driving is to make a commitment to drive less.

I believe these are the main ways to improve fuel efficiency and reduce pollution when it comes to driving, though there are many other little tips and tricks as well. Please let me know if there is something you would like to see added 🙂



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