Greener Driving Tips

Everyone has heard the standard tips for reducing your own carbon footprint and with the UK Government announcing that the sale of new diesel and petrol cars will be banned from 2030 driving is the next big area where they are analysing their own impact.

The most obvious way to reduce your carbon emissions here is to not use a car at all, but unfortunately this just isn’t a viable option for many people for a number of different reasons. Instead there are a number of different approaches that you can take so that whilst you use a car you're focusing on greener driving and being a more eco safe driver.

Swap One Journey

Whilst it may not be practical for you to do away with your car completely you may be able to switch just one journey a week to public transport. This might not be your daily commute but it could be a trip you take in your free time, such as a weekly catch up with your friends, but it can still make a difference.

Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel reported in April of 2021 that if motorists in the UK switched just 1 in every 25 journeys to a bus journey instead then it would save as much as 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Another study that was produced for train operations company LNER found that switching one journey per week to a train journey could results in a 28.4% reduction in overall carbon emissions.

Choose An Eco Friendly Car

The next most logical step is to switch to a car that doesn’t solely use petrol and diesel. This could be by choosing either a mild hybrid (MHEV) or plug in hybrid (PHEV) model or making the switch to fully electric cars currently available.

The difference that this has on emissions is drastic. Transport and Environment estimate that a PHEV in 2020 will emit around 28 tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime compared to 39 tonnes for a petrol car or 41 tonnes for a diesel. Electric vehicles, whilst having no emissions whilst driven, will cater for around 3.8 tonnes of CO2 in its lifetime from the electricity that it uses for charging.

It’s also now much easier to switch from a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) car as most brands have now ramped up their provision of alternatively powered vehicles in preparation for the mandatory switch off of petrol and diesel builds. This includes many more manufacturers offering mild hybrid cars, which are usually much more budget friendly than a PHEV or EV equivalent.

Not everyone is able to make the switch from petrol and diesel cars at the moment, especially as some options are considerably more expensive but thankfully due to technology advancements there are many, particularly petrol, eco friendly cars available with lower vehicle emissions than previous models.

Adjust Your Driving

If you're looking to improve your impact on the environment whilst still using your current car an easy step that you can take is to be more conscious of how you drive your car. Sometimes referred to as eco safe driving techniques, these are adjustments that you can make in your driving habits that will reduce emissions and also help your car to stay healthy and have improved fuel economy.

Smooth acceleration and braking is a major part of this. Pushing your car too quickly in one way or the other uses more fuel and therefore creates more harmful emissions. Anticipating the road in front of you and being mindful of what the traffic around you is doing will help you to avoid sharp braking.

Anticipating the traffic around you will also allow you to stop your car from coming to a complete stop. By slowing down earlier you may avoid stopping completely at roundabout or traffic lights which will save energy. Coming to a total stop and then having to start up again actually uses more energy overall. If you know that you'll be stopped for more than 2-3 minutes then cutting your engine completely will also help.

Follow the gear guidance that your car gives you if it has it. Most newer cars will indicate to you on the dashboard when it registers that you should change up or down a gear and whilst you may not necessarily feel like it corresponds with how you like to drive, it will improve your fuel consumption.

Driving at the speed limit also helps with eco safe driving. Aside from the obvious of a speed limit being the legal limit for any road it also helps to reduce the amount of fuel that you use. For example driving at 80mph on the motorway is thought to use around 25% more fuel than driving at the 70mph limit.

As well as having a direct impact on your fuel consumption driving more consciously will also help the parts in your car, like the brakes, to last for longer which helps to reduce waste in the long run.

Use Technology Wisely

There are additional tools that you can use that help you to drive greener. Google Maps has added a feature to its app that will help you to select the route that it estimates will be better for your fuel efficiency and therefore produce less CO2 emissions. It combines this with its other features, such as real time traffic updates, to show you the best route and the fastest route, although they may not be the same.

Meanwhile standard features in your car such as your air conditioning will have a direct impact on the fuel that you use. Having your air conditioning and heating on for longer periods of time will increase the amount of fuel that you use. Whilst it's sometimes unavoidable, like in winter, being mindful of how much you use it has an impact. If you're making a short journey to the shops could you perhaps put up with the chill in the air?

Use your cruise control to help maintain your speed. A constant speed allows your car to use less energy and less fuel on your trip. It is designed to be used on flat roads however so if you're driving on a gradient it may not be as effective and could actually increase your consumption rather than improve it.

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