After all, if we truly care about emissions and the planet, shouldn’t we be cycling everywhere or only driving an electric model? More and more of us are becoming aware of the environmental impact – and the personal cost – of our fuel consumption and other motoring activities. However, not everyone wants to or can switch over to electric or hybrids. The good news is that you don’t need to give up your love of driving – there are some clever ways to lessen the environmental impact of your motoring and cut down on your carbon footprint, which will save the planet and your bank balance.
Top Off Your Tank
Did you know that there’s a technique you can use while filling up the tank that will reduce your car’s emissions? Yep, if you fill the tank in one continuous stream and avoid adding extra spurts afterwards, this can make a big difference. If you’re one of those people in the habit of adding a spurt to top off your tank after filling up, then you’re helping harmful vapours to escape. Modern cars are fitted with an emissions canister that’s in place to prevent fuel vapours escaping into the atmosphere, but if you stop and start when filling up and add extra after the tank is on full, it forces liquid into the canister. This reduces its effectiveness over time and eventually renders it completely useless. Overfilling can also lead to harmful fuel spills, So always make sure you only fill up in one motion, don’t overload, and make sure that cap is screwed on as tight as possible.
Get Smart With Driving
Even if your set-up is fully optimised, and your car has been regularly serviced, there’s still a lot you can do with the way you drive. As an added bonus, if you’re considering a telematics policy for your car insurance (where you have a ‘black box’ fitted to your car to provide the insurance company with data on how safely you drive, and they adjust your premium accordingly) these tips will also benefit your insurance costs as well as your environmental impact. Avoid sudden acceleration and deceleration and try to drive more smoothly. Plan out a route in advance to avoid making unnecessary detours and make it more efficient by avoiding traffic black spots where possible. Tools like AA Route Planner can help with this. Never sit in the car with the engine idling, as that’s a complete waste of fuel. And on motorways, consider turning on your cruise control to maintain a steady speed without suddenly getting faster. You could also try cadence braking to reduce speed gradually rather than coming to a hard stop.
Trade Up Responsibly
If its time to think about trading in and getting a new car, there are ways to limit the environmental impact here too. If your vehicle is older consider a recycling scrappage scheme. You agree on a quote for your old car, its collected free of charge and reused for parts or recycled. www.scrapcarnetwork.org also has an added dimension as they also run the Recycling Lives charity employing homeless and ex-Armed Forces personnel. So you could be doing a world of good while changing your wheels.
New Car Hacks to Use Less Fuel
When buying a new car, look for high mpg ratings or consider alternative fuel if possible. Cutting down on external features such as roof racks helps, as does buying a white car – believe it or not, white is up to 10 degrees cooler inside than the same model in black, which means you can use less air conditioning and reduce fuel consumption. Manuals are also more efficient than automatics at improving economy. Diesel can also be a good choice, despite their bad reputation, generating less low and mid-range power than petrol engines, which gives a sportier handling as well – unexpected win. Likewise, sports suspension requires less use of the brakes as the car has more grip to the road, and that also burns less fuel. See? You can have a slick driving experience and still reduce your environmental impact!
Cut The Air Con
Depending on the climate where you live, switching on the A/C can be more or less of a regular occurrence. But keeping the car ice-cold is not the best for the environment. Switching it on produces a power surge demand on your car’s electrical system, which then puts extra burden on the engine and uses more fuel. So consider whether it’s kinder to the planet to roll the windows down if you just need a bit of a breeze, especially if you’re not on the motorway. At higher speeds, it’s a different game, as the aerodynamic drag caused
makes the car more fuel hungry than using the air conditioning does! So when you hit the motorway, it’s a good idea to make sure that the refrigerants and system pressure have been adequately maintained and are working at their optimum level.
Keep Your Car Serviced
Aside from being great for the performance and handling, having your car tuned up regularly can help you go greener. If your vehicle is at optimum performance, it's more reliable, longer-lasting and better with fuel economy. Start simple. Clean out all the extra stuff in the boot that you don’t need. That adds unnecessary weight and eats fuel, so tidy up regularly. Make sure you keep on top of the tyre pressure too – under-inflated tyres create more friction, putting extra strain on the engine and burning more fuel – when you full up, make sure you also add air to the tyres to the manufacturer approved level. That way they will last longer, which means less costly replacements and less tyre ending up in landfill. Maintaining the radiator and cooling system is also an intelligent decision that reduces the risk of major faults developing. Get your oil changed at least every 5,000 miles to keep engine resistance and wear down, and make sure spark plugs aren’t dirty or worn out, which can make the car’s performance worse.
Simple changes can add up over time, and before you know it, they’ve helped you save money, improve your car’s performance and lowered the damage to the environment. Loving your wheels can be a major win.