6 ways to be an eco-friendly driver

Save the planet!

Green cars are becoming more and more popular with a wide range of cars offering healthier fuel emissions and better economy. Not all of us can afford to buy a new electric car but you can still be an eco-friendly driver with a regular car.

The AA published 6 ways for you to do your bit for the environment and save money in the process:

1.    Anticipate traffic flow

Look well ahead, scan the road and act rather than react. It’s all about going easy on the brakes and accelerator and keeping the vehicle moving.

Step off the accelerator if traffic flow is slowing down to keep a safe distance. In this way, variations in traffic speed can be absorbed and equalised much better and you should be able to avoid – or at least minimise – those pesky stop-start situations. At the same time, this will enable you to maintain a safe following distance, which is not only safer but more efficient as it avoids sudden and late braking.

Braking sharply, accelerating, then braking sharply again for the traffic bumps, for example, will consume a lot more fuel than gently riding the bumps at a steady pace.

2.    Maintain a steady speed

The faster you go, the more fuel the vehicle uses and the greater the pollution created.

Driving at 120 km/h uses almost 10% more fuel than driving at 100 km/h and up to 15% more than at 80 km/h. Sudden and abrupt acceleration uses copious amounts of fuel and increases CO2 emissions, so drive at a steady speed and use cruise control where appropriate during the course of your journey.

Sticking to the speed limit is not only safer, it’s also cheaper and kinder to the environment.

3.    Shift up

Keeping the engine in a low gear for longer than necessary consumes a lot of fuel so change into the highest appropriate gear as soon as you can,

Try to keep the engine running at its most efficient level which, for most engines, is between 2 000 and 3 000 r/min. Generally, you should shift up when the engine is revving at around 2 500 r/min for petrol variants and 2 000 r/min in diesels.

Which gear to use when:

1st gear – pulling off only

2nd gear – up to 30 km/h

3rd gear – up to 40 km/h

4th gear – up to 50 km/h

5th gear – up to 60 km/h

6th gear – 60 km/h and faster

When driving uphill select a gear that requires the accelerator pedal to be depressed no more than about three-quarters of its maximum position.

4.    Use the vehicle’s momentum

The idea here is to use the vehicle’s built-up kinetic energy more efficiently by letting the vehicle roll whenever possible instead of braking and then accelerating.

There are different ways of using a vehicle’s momentum.

The first is to release the accelerator early and remain in gear when slowing down or driving downhill. This will activate the fuel cut-off switch and reduce fuel flow to almost nothing. Bear in mind, however, that fuel cut-off switches don’t work at low revs and some older vehicles don’t have them at all.

If this is the case, rather allow the vehicle to roll in neutral while the engine is idling. You’ll be surprised at the distance that can sometimes be covered in this way. The same effect can be achieved by simply keeping your foot on the clutch and the vehicle in gear.

5.    Go easy on the aircon

Having air-conditioning in a vehicle is great, especially in our hot summer months. However, you pay for this comfort in terms of emissions and fuel consumption.

In general, air-conditioning increases a vehicle’s fuel consumption by around 10 per cent so switch it off as soon as the required cabin temperature has been achieved. In addition, make sure that the system is properly and regularly serviced in order to prevent CFC leaks that harm the environment.

For safety reasons it’s not always advisable to drive with the windows down, but this would be a more efficient alternative to using the aircon – especially on short trips.

6.    Check the tyres

Not only can the way you drive save the environment but the tyres you fit on your vehicle can too. Go for tyres that are lightweight and offer less rolling resistance.

In addition, check tyre pressure regularly as under-inflated tyres cause excessive drag and resistance and thus increases fuel consumption.

In a nutshell, driving in an eco-friendly manner not only means lower fuel and maintenance costs for you, but also less impact on the environment. It’s a win-win!

Source: AA