Reduce your monthly fuel bill

How to reduce your monthly fuel bill

Reduce your monthly fuel bill

There are a number of ways you could reduce your monthly fuel bill. Buying an electric or hybrid car is one option, but the purchase cost could make this a false economy. Alternatively, you could lock the car in the garage and walk everywhere.

If those options seem a bit drastic, fear not, because we’ve assembled a list of top tips guaranteed to save you money.

1: Slow down!

Stick to speed limits and not only will you avoid a run-in with the law, you’ll also be shaving pounds off your fuel bill. Figures from the Department for Transport suggest that driving at a steady 50mph instead of 70mph can improve fuel economy by as much as 25%.

Your granny’s point about a fast driver not arriving any quicker might be a little wide of the mark, but speeding is a false economy. Many drivers cruise at 80mph on a motorway, but did you know you’ll use 10% more fuel than you would at 70mph?

2: Shop around

Shopping around for cheaper fuel might save you a few pennies on a litre of diesel or unleaded. Over the course of a month, these pennies will add up to a significant saving. gathers data from around 8,500 petrol stations across the UK to provide average, mininum and maximum prices for unleaded, diesel, super unleaded, premium diesel and LPG.

While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to save a penny per litre, a little forward planning can make a big difference, especially if you’re planning a long trip. Website figures suggest the difference could be as much as 15p per litre. On a 50-litre tank, that’s a saving of £7.50.

3: Service your car

service your car

Getting your car serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s schedule will ensure it is running at optimum efficiency. Not only is this better for the environment, but it’s also better for your wallet, because a well-maintained car will consume less fuel.

Crucially, by sticking to the recommended service intervals, you’ll be able to spot potential problems sooner, which could save you even more money in the long run. Consult your vehicle’s handbook to find out when your car is next due a service.

4: Plan your journey

Today’s sat nav systems are able to plan the most efficient route to your destination, but even if you’re still relying on a traditional map, a little planning can make all the difference.

Ask yourself: do you really have to drive in the rush hour? Stop-start traffic will result in your car consuming more fuel, as the car is working harder to get moving again. Similarly, leave home with time to spare, as rushing to your destination will use more fuel.

Look at the week ahead – could you combine two journeys into one? Are you able to car share with one of your colleagues? Would public transport or even walking provide a more cost-effective and less stressful alternative to the car? Plan ahead and save money.

5: Check your tyres

check your tyres

Research by Continental suggests that tyres contribute up to 20% of a car’s total fuel consumption, so it pays to take care of your rubber. Reduce rolling resistance by 10% and you can expect a 1.6% drop in fuel consumption – the equivalent of 2g/km CO2.

You’ll find the recommended tyre pressures somewhere on the car, most likely on the inside of the driver’s door or fuel filler cap, but if in doubt, consult your vehicle’s handbook or your local dealer.

Correctly inflated tyres will last longer, be safer on the road and will improve your fuel economy. Also remember to replace worn out tyres – EU tyre labelling makes it easier for you to find the most efficient tyres for your car.

6: Turn off the air conditioning

Turning off the air conditioning will improve your fuel economy, but opening the windows on the motorway could be a false economy. As a guide, keep the windows shut at speeds in excess of 60mph. In general, air conditioning will have the greatest impact on economy at lower speeds, especially during city driving.

Remember, air conditioning can also help to de-mist a car, so using it is preferable to leaving the car idling while you wait for the windows to clear.

7: Avoid over-revving your engine


If your car features a shift-up/shift-down indicator, use it, as this will ensure your engine is running at optimum efficiency. Over-revving will waste fuel and increase engine wear.

The Department for Transport recommends changing up a gear before the rev counter reaches 2,000rpm in a diesel car and 2,500rpm in a petrol. Read the road ahead to ensure you’re not in too high a gear for hills and roundabouts.

8: Declutter your car

The more your car has to carry the harder it has to work, which in turns leads to reduced fuel efficiency. While we wouldn’t endorse leaving your mother-in-law at the bus stop, we would recommend leaving the golf clubs at home.

The RAC claims that, on average, every 50kg you carry will increase your fuel consumption by 2%. It’s based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicle’s weight, so the smaller the vehicle, the greater the effect.

9: Smoothly does it

toyota fuel

By accelerating and decelerating in a smooth and relaxed manner, you could expect to save around 20% in fuel. Figures suggest that non-aggressive driving and anticipating the road ahead could see this rise to as much as 30%.

Indeed, braking will put a dent in your hyper-miling achievements, while the simple act of accelerating will reduce it even further. Avoid leaving braking for junctions and roundabouts until the last minute.

10: Remove the roof rack

Anything that reduces your car’s aerodynamic properties will have a negative impact on your fuel consumption. Figures from the RAC suggest that even an empty roof rack can increase fuel consumption by 10%.

Add the additional weight of a fully-loaded roof rack and the net result could seriously hamper your chances of saving money. If it’s not being used – remove it. And that includes the roof bars.

MPs call for Low Emission Zones in cities

EU agrees to cut real-world car emissions – but green groups are not happy

MPs call for Low Emission Zones in citiesThe European Parliament has voted not to block the introduction of Real Driving Emissions testing from 2017, meaning that new cars will be tested for emissions such as NOx in real life conditions, not in regulated labs.

And who was trying to block this apparent good move for air quality? Not the car makers, but MEPs – because they think the exemptions car makers have been granted are too generous.


In 2007, it was agreed that European regulations would demand cars emit no more than 80mg/km of NOx under the Euro 6 limit currently in force.

Vehicles are homologated in laboratory conditions to prove that they meet this limit, as part of the NEDC fuel consumption test.

However, on-road testing has found that many vehicles exceed this NOx limit in real world use, sometimes by 4-500% or more. The Real Driving Emissions test – RDE – has been under development for several years to try and overcome this.

And then came dieselgate

The Volkswagen emissions scandal accelerated its rollout: it was agreed in October 2015 that it would come into force from 2017 – first for all newly-introduced models, and then for all new cars sold.

There’s a ‘but’, though. Because car makers were basing their developments on the existing lab test – which critics argue is easier to fool (indeed, this is exactly what Volkswagen’s ‘dieselgate’ cheat was based upon) – they sought an exemption that would relax the limits for a couple of years.

They won one.

In September 2017, new models to market would be allowed to emit up to 2.1 times (110%) the 80mg/km limit, which would extend to all cars on sale by September 2019.

This discrepancy would be reduced to 1.5 times (50%) by January 2020 for new models, and by January 2021 for all cars sold. This leniency would remain in place going forward – to account for margins of error in the testing kit (called Portable Emissions Measurement Systems, or PEMS).

A date when the variance from the norm will become zero – meaning vehicles would have to emit the 80mg/km limit set back in 2007 – has not yet been agreed.

‘Good day for dirty deals’?

Still with us? Good – because today’s vote was one of the final hurdles against the introduction of this. MEPs were trying to block the introduction of RDE because they argue these exemptions are too kind on car makers – particularly the 50% margin of error. They say the actual margin of error is more like 20%.

“Today was a good day for dirty deals but a bad day for cleaner air,” said Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder.

However, the RAC’s Steve Gooding said the vote was “a step in the right direction” as it would cut NOx from today’s spiralling emissions to two times the limit, and then 1.5 times – without delay.

A rejection of the decision already made by EU member states “would delay improvements to air quality, particularly in cities,” said European automotive industry body the ACEA.

The car makers say…

RDE will introduce a completely new testing method for vehicles on the road. Europe is the first and only region in the world to introduce such a system, which will lead to major progress in improving air quality.

While the current proposal takes into account error margins in the new measuring equipment, vehicle manufacturers will have to aim well below the legal limit to ensure compliance. Moreover, the error margin will be reviewed and, as the equipment improves in precision, the conformity factor will be tightened.


The environmental campaigners say…

The European Parliament today caved in to pressure from car-producing countries and agreed to weaken the limits for nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from new diesel cars. The effective new ‘Euro 6’ limit, 168mg of NOx per km, is more than double that agreed in 2007 (80mg/km). From 2020, all new cars will still be allowed to emit 120mg/km.

Despite public outcry, EU governments have pressured national MEPs to accept the weakening of the legal limits that was agreed via the backdoor of comitology in October of last year. The decision will undermine efforts to clean up Europe’s air and improve public health.

– Transport & Environment

What do you think of today’s vote? Share your thoughts of which side you’re on below…