Planning your journey
It’s not always easy to know which transport options are available when making the transition from the car to other modes of transport, but the benefits of leaving the car at home, even if it is one day a week, makes good sense. We are here to help you plan and make choices about the other ways to get to and from work, around town or further afield.
Although driving a car is the least sustainable choice of travel it is sometimes a necessity and there are ways in which you can reduce the impacts of car travel on the environment; save money, reduce energy usage, CO2 emissions and pollution.
We have set out below some eco-driving tips that are simple ideas that really make a difference.
• Servicing: get the car serviced regularly to maintain engine efficiency.
• Engine oil: make sure you use the right specification of engine oil.
• Tyres: check tyre pressures regularly especially before long journeys; under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance and so use more fuel.
Before you go
• Lose weight: extra weight means extra fuel so if there’s anything in the boot you don’t need on the journey take it out.
• Streamline: roof-racks and boxes add wind resistance and therefore increase fuel consumption. If you don’t need it, take it off – if you do, pack carefully to reduce drag.
• Don’t get lost: plan unfamiliar journeys to reduce the risk of getting lost and check the traffic news before you leave.
• Combine short trips: cold starts use more fuel so it pays to combine errands such as buying the paper, dropping off the recycling, or collecting the kids.
• Consider alternatives: if it’s a short journey (a couple of miles or so) could you walk or cycle rather than taking the car?
On your journey
• Easy does it: drive smoothly, accelerate gently and read the road ahead to avoid unnecessary braking
• Rolling: if you can keep the car moving all the time, you’ll see the benefits; stopping then starting again uses more fuel than rolling.
• Cut down on the air-con: air-conditioning increases fuel consumption at low speeds, but at higher speeds, the effects are less noticeable. So if it’s a hot day open the windows around town and save the air conditioning for high-speed driving.
• Turn it off: electrical loads increase fuel consumption, so turn off your heated rear windscreen, demister blowers and headlights, when you don’t need them.
• Stick to speed limits: the faster you go the greater the fuel consumption and pollution. Driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph. Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph.
Is it best to idle or switch off?
You might be tempted to switch off the engine every time you stop after all many cars now have automatic stop-start systems that do just that but is switching off manually the best thing for your wallet or the environment?
As a general guide, for a warm car in daylight conditions in mild weather, turning the engine off for a wait of around a minute or more will probably save fuel. A cold engine, cold weather, or additional electrical loads will all extend the period you’d have to be stationary to get a benefit from switching off.
Is it a good idea to coast?
Although it used to be quite a common practice to save fuel, rolling downhill or approaching a junction with the car out of gear is inadvisable because the driver doesn’t have full control of the vehicle.
You lose the ability to suddenly accelerate out of tricky situations
• You lose engine braking which risks brake fade on downhill stretches – overheated brakes require harder pedal pressures to stop the vehicle.
• With changes in vehicle fuel systems coasting won’t save you fuel.
With Smarter Travel you can not only plan your trip, but you will easily and seamlessly travel from door to door using all means of public transport. Don’t waste time having difficulties in finding the way to your destination – use our useful tips above and you will be sure to embark on a smooth journey.
The future of car travel is electric
If you’re thinking about a new car, why not look at a hybrid or electric vehicle? Today’s electric and hybrid cars can drive over 320 kilometres on a single charge and you could save yourself hundreds of pounds compared to petrol or diesel cars. Visit Goultralow.com to find a handy ‘home charging calculator’ that can help you to find out how much does it cost to charge an EV at home. Also, there are almost 20,000 public charging point connectors in the UK including rapid chargers.
There are significant benefits to driving electric or hybrid vehicles; they are cheaper to run than combustion engines, potentially saving up to two thirds of the cost on petrol or diesel (see a ‘Journey cost savings calculator’ here), they are cheaper to maintain because hundreds of fewer moving parts and associated mechanical problems, and they are better for the environment with no exhaust emissions (EV do not even have exhaust!).
To find EV charging points through the UK visit the handy Zap Map website.