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How to Save the Environment and Save Money by Driving Green

January 16, 2014

Okay, so maybe you can’t save the environment all by yourself – but let’s take this one day at a time and you could have a Nobel prize on your hands. And did we mention going green saves money? Let’s get down to it.

Drive smoothly –Keep an eye on the road ahead. Driving at a constant speed is much more efficient than braking and accelerating very often – as well as decelerating early when slowing down, this will give you more time between you and the reason for slowing, allowing you to adjust your speed less and keep on moving rather than stopping and continuing.

Alternative fuel – Biodiesel and similar alternative fuels allow you to feel environmentally virtuous and save some cash but, as there isn’t as much energy in these fuels, the mileage is lower. There’s also the unfortunate effect of your vehicle smelling like a chip shop or whatever source the oil used to power it came from – but you can’t argue with money saving methods.

Turn the engine off – Not when you’re driving, of course. But whenever the car is stationary for a few minutes, like a red light or stuck in traffic, modern cars use barely any fuel to start up – so you’re saving money and giving out lower toxic emissions from your exhaust.

Shifting up sooner – Driving with the engine at lower speeds significantly reduces your fuel consumption, so try shifting up between 2000 and 2500 rpm and see how much less fuel you use – you’ll be shocked at the results.

Slow down! – Avoid speeding when possible, for a rough benchmark – driving at 85mph uses almost 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph, and less fuel usage equals lower emissions. Plus you’re breaking the law at those speeds. 3 birds – one stone.

Windows – Many drivers don’t know about this one. Not so much a factor when you’re going slowly but, if you’re travelling over 50, think about shutting the windows – the drag caused by your windows negatively impacts the aerodynamics of the vehicle, resulting in (you guessed it) more fuel usage and a much bigger carbon footprint.

Air conditioning – First we tell you to shut the windows, now we’re telling you to turn off the air con – we know it sounds like things are going to get a bit hot. Windows can and should be open for low speeds with the air conditioning off. But when you’re at speeds, the fuel cost of the air con is much lower than the cost from having to fight the drag from open windows.

Weight – Carrying less weight decreases fuel consumption massively. Don’t go so far as to rip out the back seat in the name of Greenpeace – but if you’ve got any unnecessary objects in your boot, just leave them at home. And yes, the spare tyre is a necessity.

Roof racks – So you’ve got a roof box or rack – do you use it? If the answer is no, consider leaving it off until you need it. Or even better, if it’s easy to detach, take it off when you’re finished and throw it back up when you need it. This is a weight issue really, but we think it deserves its own point since there are so many offenders out there with empty roof boxes. Stop it!

Tyre pressure – Not only is low tyre pressure dangerous, it also decreases the friction it can create with the road. So give them a check once every month – tyres lose pressure naturally, so this is something you need to keep on top of.

Warming up the car – Modern cars don’t need to be warmed up before use, so leaving it idle before you set off is just wasting precious fuel. Just don’t do it!

Consider switching cars – If your car is particularly thirsty for petrol, when it comes time to trade it in, consider switching to a more fuel efficient car like the Honda fit – with an estimated mileage of 40mpg – or a hybrid like the Toyota Prius, which gets approximately 46 miles to the gallon.

If you’re sick of your old car burning fuel like it’s going out of style but you can’t seem to save enough for a more efficient model, head on over to our loan calculator to find the finance package that could help you fund your dream car.

About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.