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Daily Echo guide to saving money on your petrol or diesel bill
MOTORISTS are still feeling the pain of petrol and diesel costs and last week’s 1p fuel duty cut has done little to quell record prices at the pump.
But as the Daily Echo continues with the Don’t be a Fuel Fool campaign, we can show you how to cut as much as £500 from your annual fuel bill – simply by making small changes to the way you drive.
Research by Hampshire-based motoring organisation the AA shows that the best eco-drivers can reduce their fuel costs by as much as a third and the average person who tries to put the energy saving tips into practice will cut ten per cent off, or around £160.
1) SPEED – A typical five-year-old family petrol car driving at 70mph for 200 miles would cost around £27.30.
According to the Department for Transport, if you cut your speed down to 60mph on the same journey, it would save you 9 per cent – or £2.45.
Slowing down from 80mph to 60mph could cut your fuel costs by as much as 34 per cent – or £9.28 over the same distance.
2) SWITCH OFF – On the same 200 mile journey, if you used your air conditioning at a high level for the whole way, it would cost you around 15 per cent more – or about £4.
3) READ THE ROAD – AA eco-driving instructor Patrick Whitbourn, who’s from West End, said: “People should look ahead on the road so you don’t have to keep accelerating and breaking.”
4) TYRE PRESSURES - Check them regularly as under-inflated tyres create more rolling resistance and use more fuel.
5) STREAMLINE – Get rid of roof racks and boxes that create extra wind resistance and increase fuel consumption.
6) DON’T BE IDLE – If you’re stuck in stationary traffic for more than three minutes, turn your engine off.
7) GO TO THE PUMP WHEN IT’S COLD – Refuel when it’s cold outside, as petrol expands in the heat and you’re likely to get more for your money.
8) OIL – Make sure you’re using the right engine oil and it’s at the right level as low oil will make the engine work harder.
9) AVOID HEAVY BRAKING – When you have to slow down or stop, release the accelerator in plenty of time, leaving the car in gear. Mr Whitbourn said: “Driving off-gas is one of your biggest savings. You’re hardly using any fuel at all, even less than if your car was just idling.”
10) LEAVE PROMPTLY – Idling wastes fuel and the engine will warm up quicker once moving.
11) REVERSE PARK – If you can drive straight off when your engine is cold it’s better for fuel economy.
So reverse park after a journey, when the engine is warm.
12) BLOCK-CHANGE GEARS – Every time the car changes gear it uses fuel, so block change (ie go from second to fourth) when safe to do so.
13) DON’T GET LOST – Plan journeys to avoid unnecessary miles.
14) COMBINE SHORT TRIPS – You use most fuel on short journeys so combine errands rather than making lots of smaller trips.
15) KEEP ROLLING – Keep the car moving at all times if possible.
Stopping and starting will use more fuel.
16) DON’T COAST – Driving in neutral or with the clutch down is often thought to use less fuel – but changes in the vehicle fuel system mean there’s no saving and you lose engine braking, which can cause damage to your brakes.
17) DRIVE IN A HIGH GEAR – Change gear when a diesel reaches 2000rpm and a petrol at 2500rpm.
18) LESS ELECTRIC – Any electrical load uses more fuel, so turn off the heated rear windscreen, headlights and blowers when they’re not needed.
19) BE CAREFUL AT THE PUMP – Mr Whitbourn said: “When you’re filling up, get all the drips and dribbles – I sometimes see people letting it dribble down the side of their car, when that could be up to a cup of fuel.”
20) LOSE WEIGHT – Extra weight means extra fuel, so take things you don’t need out of the boot.
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My week of eco-driving proves that patience DOES pay
WATCHED my speedometer like a hawk, approached roundabouts with the utmost care and tried to only use my brake in emergencies.
In the interests of eco-driving I even forced myself to reverse park – something that causes me great distress – so that I could just pull away when my engine was cold and at its most inefficient. Following my lesson with AA driving instructor Patrick Whitbourn, learning the greenest possible way of driving a car, I tried my best to put his tips into practice.
Driving at 60mph on the motorway certainly didn’t come naturally – I’m usually bombing along in the fast lane – but I put my impatient streak aside for an entire week in the interest of saving a few quid at the pump.
And did it work?
Before my eco-driving week I drove 298 miles on a fill-up of 24.4 litres, which according to my calculations gives me an average of 55.5 miles per gallon.
After a week of driving like a saint, my fill-up of 24.2 litres had taken me 332 miles, meaning my miles per gallon had gone up to 62.3.
That means I achieved the average saving of around ten per cent, and with my weekly trip to the petrol station costing me £33, that’s an annual saving of £171.60 – or in other words, a very decent shopping trip.