Fuel economy tips: make the most of your fuel
By OVO Energy Wednesday 06 May 2015
Being energy efficient at home is important, but don’t undo all your good work the minute you hop in your car! Carry out these fuel economy tips to make sure you’re getting the best mileage from your motor.
Just like a vacuum cleaner does a poor job of sucking up dirt when it’s full of dust, a car will struggle to perform at its best if it can’t ‘breathe’ properly, resulting in poor fuel efficiency and an increased likelihood of stalling. Make sure the air filter is clear, and replace it as often as the manufacturer’s handbook suggests.
Tyres are a pretty integral part of getting a car moving, so they play a big role in fuel efficiency. Give them a quick once over and check that:
- The tread is a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tread width, and an even depth across and around the entire tyre. Any less breaks MOT laws, and irregular wear may suggest tracking and alignment issues, which will eat into your fuel efficiency
- The tyres are inflated as per your vehicle’s requirements – try to check once a month, or pre and post-big journeys! Under-inflated tyres can increase fuel use by 4% as they put extra stress on the engine, diminishing efficiency (according to Kwik Fit, Brits spend an extra £1 billion a year on excess fuel thanks to under-inflated tyres!)
- Only buy winter tyres if you regularly drive in areas that have a lot of snowfall in winter. Winter tyres have more grip on the road, resulting in lower fuel mileage.
If you only drive short distances, checking your tyres every couple of months is enough. If you plan a longer journey, it is good practice to check your tyres before you set off.
The 'check engine' light
If you have a fuel-injection car model, the ‘check engine’ light could signify problems with oxygen sensors or engine emissions systems. A damaged oxygen sensor could result in an overly rich fuel mixture, which could reduce fuel mileage by as much as 20%. If in doubt, head to your local garage and ask them to check it out. There will be a good reason why this warning light comes on, so don’t ignore it!
Carry out regular oil checks
You should carry out regular oil checks on your car whether efficiency is on your mind or not, as running out of oil in the middle of a journey can have very serious repercussions on the engine. Make sure it’s kept topped up (the engine will have to work much harder when levels are low) and that it’s clean. Book your car in for an oil change once a year, or every 7,500 miles, to keep things in good condition.
Check the boot for unnecessary ballast
Every extra 100 pounds of weight in your car increases fuel consumption by up to 2% - the heavier the car, the harder the engine has to work, so clear out the boot and remove all the paraphernalia you’ve been carting around but never use, and remove bike and roof racks when you’re not using them.
The type of car makes a big difference too – go for efficient models if you regularly use the car for one-two people on short journeys. Diesel cars are more fuel efficient and may save you money in the long-term. Hybrid cars are 25% more efficient and have £5,000 Government grants available at the moment.
Extra tips for driving:
- Reduce wind resistance by removing empty roof racks and closing windows at high speed – this can save up to 10%. But make sure you don’t use air-conditioning unnecessarily as that can increase CO2 emissions by 5%.
- Drive at reasonable speeds and don’t brake suddenly – keep an eye on the traffic ahead reasonable speeds. Even better – if you have a Sat Nav, use it to avoid congestion. Google Maps also has a great feature that predicts congestion on the route ahead of you.
- Change up gears as early as possible as higher gears are more economical
- Make small cuts in energy use by: setting off straight away and turning your car off when parked
And of course, you can make even bigger cuts by car sharing, walking, cycling or using public transport.
All the facts in this article were sourced by our partner, the Centre for Sustainable Energy. If you’d like more free impartial advice on anything from tips on energy efficiency and renewable energy to how to apply for grants and financial support just give us a call on 0800 408 6601 (mobile 0117 934 1999) to speak with an energy efficiency expert or you can email us.