Top tips for economic driving

Top tips for economic driving 18th December 2014

When it comes to personal finance, every little helps, especially at this time of year when most people are spending a large chunk of their income on presents and Christmas dinner. 

People looking to claw back a little bit of their cash this year could consider their motoring habits. According to the Energy Saving Trust, those who drive more efficiently can save themselves between £250 and £350 per year on the cost of their fuel. 

So not only is smart driving good for the environment, it's also good for the pocket. But how can you make this saving? We look at some of the top tips to help you drive more efficiently and save money on your fuel.

Check tyre pressure

Incorrect tyre pressure can cause a number of issues for drivers, from making steering lighter to causing the car to pull off in one direction, but it can also eat up far more fuel than the car should. 

Tyres that are not properly inflated can cause the car to use up to four per cent more fuel, according to the International Energy Agency, and over the course of the year this can really add up. Experts recommend checking tyre pressure once a month at least, which can be done with most modern foot pumps. If your tyres seem to lose pressure often, however, it could be down to a slow puncture, so it's always best to have the tyres checked by an expert, which can be done for free.

Close the windows

Particularly at high speeds, driving with the windows open will increase wind resistance and means that your engine has to work harder in order to maintain the speed you're driving at. 

Closing the windows and using the air conditioning at high speeds on motorways, for example, will be far more efficient. In fact, according to the European Commission, doing this could lower fuel consumption considerably, as well as cutting your CO2 emissions by as much as ten per cent. 

Air conditioning

While using the air conditioning unit at a high speed is more efficient than driving with the windows open, the opposite is true when you're driving at low speeds in the city. The wind resistance from having the windows open will be negligible. 

However, having the air conditioning running while driving at 20 or 30mph can increase fuel consumption by as much as five per cent. 

Change gears earlier

Changing gear at the right time can be quite difficult at times, mostly because different driving instructors will tell you different things. However, the most efficient time to change gears will help you reduce the amount of fuel your car uses. 

For cars with a rev counter, drivers should aim to change up at 2,000rpm or 2,500rpm for diesel cars. This can make a real difference as well, with drivers changing at the right time potentially able to save up to five per cent on fuel, according to advice presented by the AA.

Drive at the right speed

Finally, drivers who tackle the road at the correct speeds can make huge differences to how much they're spending on fuel. It's perhaps the most effective way to lower your fuel consumption. 

The AA says that the formula is simple – the faster you drive, the more fuel you will be using to do so. Its research found that driving at 70mph will use nine per cent more fuel than at 60mph and 15 per cent more than at 50mph. Those who break the speed limit and drive on the motorway at 80mph may think they're saving themselves time, but in reality they will be spending more money on fuel. At this speed, cars will burn 25 per cent more fuel than at 70mph. 

Posted by Danielle Barge