Green motoring tips

Caroline Cassidy

It doesn't matter how good a driver you think you are you can always improve. By making some simple changes to the way you drive you could reduce your fuel bill and be a little friendlier to the planet.

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Think about the way you use your gears, plan ahead, and economise. If every driver in the UK was trained to improve their fuel economy, it is estimated that drivers could cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 10 million tonnes every year. That means, in terms of cost, we could save ourselves five billion from the UK economy.

Drive off from cold. Most modern cars are designed to move straight away. Warming up the engine will just waste fuel.

Check your revs. It is more efficient to change up before 2,500rpm (petrol) or 2,000rpm (diesel). Drive smoothly and avoid sharp acceleration and heavy braking. This will save fuel and reduce your chance of an accident.

Ease off the accelerator. When slowing down or driving downhill, remain in gear but take your foot off the accelerator. This reduces fuel flow to the engine.

Slow down. It sounds a little obvious but driving within the speed limit is not only the law, it's safer and reduces fuel consumption.

Use air conditioning sparingly. Air conditioning use significantly increases fuel consumption. Look at how fast you drive on average. The most efficient speed to drive at will depend upon the car you have but is typically around 45 miles an hour. Faster speeds will greatly increase your fuel consumption.

Switch the engine off. Modern cars use virtually no extra fuel when they are re-started, without pressing the accelerator. Always turn the engine off if you're going to be stationary for a while. This also applies if you're stuck in a jam. Switch the engine off if you expect to be stuck for a few minutes.

Make sure you plan ahead. This will help you avoid congestion and road works.

Save the car for longer journeys. Use other forms of transport for short ones when you can. Cold engines use almost twice as much fuel and if you have a catalytic converter it can take five miles of driving before it become effective.

Try reducing the drag on your vehicle. Accessories such as roof racks, bike carriers and roof boxes can significantly affect your car's aerodynamics and therefore reduce fuel efficiency, so take them off when not in use.

Check your cars tyre pressure. Under-inflated tyres are unsafe and increase fuel consumption by up to three per cent.