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.
PetrolPrices.com 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
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
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
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.