As fuel prices soar and the figures on the forecourts yoyo on a daily basis, usually up, rarely down, it is time to think more carefully about how and when we drive.
Not only do we need to save fuel as it is so expensive right now, but we also need to reduce our fuel usage longer term as our global resources diminish and their continued use is leading to dangerous levels of global warming.
So here are some suggestions to save you money NOW while improving the world we pass onto our children and grandchildren. Win Win!
A journey I made yesterday gleaned these prices:
Motorway M25 – Unleaded £1.85 – Diesel £1.95
Average seen today on A-roads and local forecourts – Unleaded £1.68 – Diesel £1.78.
I bought my unleaded at only £1.58. How? Find out below!
If you don’t have to go, DON’T go.
By far the best way to not consume any fuel is to not make a journey using your car.
Never buy fuel on motorways, fill up locally before a long journey.
You only have to compare the current prices I mentioned above to see that you’ll pay extra for fuel when you’ve not planned ahead.
Shop around the forecourts close to places that you have to go… Home! Work. Shops…
Generally supermarkets are fighting for market share and are cheapest, with the top supermarkets Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons usually the most competitive. (It was at one of these that I bought my Unleaded at £1.58…)
The major fuel companies (Shell, Esso, BP, etc) are usually dearer.
Sometimes smaller independents can offer cut prices near to supermarket costs. Some even have special times or days that they offer several pence per litre off. Keep your eyes open! Your local independent may well be VERY competitive!!
Use the correct grade of fuel.
Unleaded E10 is fine for most modern petrol vehicles, the dearer higher octane E5 only needed for performance cars or classic cars. (Check the Government website to see what YOUR car needs.)
Premium (more expensive) petrols for particularly high performance vehicles (probably NOT the car you and I use to drive to work!) are often available from the same pumps as the standard Unleaded. If you think that your vehicle requires Premium, check your Owner’s Manual.
There are also more expensive versions of diesel which offer additional cleaning for the inside of your engine. Whilst this obviously does no harm once in a while, you might not want to pay extra on every trip to the forecourt.
Educate yourself to drive more smoothly.
Accelerate more gently away from the traffic lights… It’s not a drag race…
Brake less harshly, planning ahead when slowing for corners and stopping for junctions, roundabouts, etc.
If you consider that how far you move the accelerator or brake pedals dictates how much fuel you use, (yes, the brake pedal too… You’ll have to use the accelerator to get back the speed you lose following braking… It all adds up!), planning and looking well ahead, anticipating reasons to slow down and/or stop saves fuel. It also makes the journey more pleasant for your passengers!
Keep your car well maintained, regularly serviced
…with filters, plugs etc all changed as recommended by the manufacturer’s service schedule.
Anything that makes the engine work harder costs more fuel! (It might also be worth switching off that air-con to save a few more pounds?)
Ensure your tyre pressures are correct for your load.
Check your handbook and/or the tyre pressure information plate usually found inside one of the front doors of the car. See – Forecourt Fixes – Looking After Your Tyres
Your car’s manufacturer will have ‘driven’ thousands of miles to find the optimum tyre pressures, you might as well listen to them!!
Improve (don’t spoil) your aerodynamics
Remove top boxes, luggage racks, roof racks, roof tents, etc unless you really need them for the journey you are currently making, e.g. for holidays etc.
Their drag (and additional weight) has a huge impact on fuel consumption.
Carrying mattresses is probably the worst thing you can do for fuel consumption and it is amazing how often you see cars used as delivery vans! Hopefully they aren’t driving too far!!
Avoid traffic jams
Slow and stop/start traffic doesn’t really let your vehicle operate at its most efficient. (There is a reason 56mph has often been quoted for producing a flattering mpg figure.)
Use the traffic features on a satnav or your mobile phone (the app ‘Waze’ is popular for crowd-sourced live traffic updates and directions) to show you the quickest and lowest traffic route. Many satnavs even feature “green” or “eco” routes now, avoiding big hills and traffic hotspots such as town/city centres.
And finally… Plan your journeys.
Don’t use the car for the school run unless you really have to. Walking or cycling more often might do us all the power of good.
Don’t shop daily, bulk shop weekly. Fill up with petrol when you are shopping.
Combine trips so you are going on fewer journeys. Are the office and the supermarket in the same part of town? Are the shops on the way to/from work?? A little bit of planning goes a long way!
Cut your mileage, save money. Simple isn’t it?