Commercial insurance article archive
A brief guide to saving fuel
With high fuel prices and the threat of shortages becoming commonplace in the UK, British drivers are growing used to having to economise. Although low fuel prices may well be a thing of the past, however, there are still ways to make sure your motoring doesn't cost more than your mortgage.
Leave the car at home
It sounds simple, but how often have you taken the car when you really could have walked? Such is the car-culture we live in that many people simply pick the car keys without stopping to consider the other options available, such as bus, train, or even good old walking. If that sounds like you, it could be time to re-acquaint yourself with your neighbourhood, and the transport options on offer.
If you've been driving for a long time, you may not even be aware of your local bus and train times, so make an effort to find out whether public transport could be an option for you. Travelling by foot or by bike is obviously the cheapest and most environmentally friendly option, and it'll also help keep your body as healthy as your bank account. Walking to work and back could also help reduce stress levels and let you discover parts of your neighbourhood you’d never get to see by car.
Plan your journey
Cars are viewed as time-saving devices, but unless you're planning your journey carefully, your car could actually be wasting you more time than it saves. How often do you pop out on an errand in the morning, only to repeat the journey in the afternoon because of something you've forgotten? How many minutes do you waste sitting in traffic jams because you've chosen to travel during rush hour?
Before setting out, take a few seconds to work out whether your journey is really necessary. If you know you have multiple errands to run in the course of the week, try to save them all for the same day, so that you're only making one trip rather than several. And it goes without saying that if you can avoid the morning and evening rush hours then so much the better – for both your pocket and your patience!
Make your car more aerodynamic
If a journey is truly unavoidable, a few small adjustments to your vehicle itself will help reduce the amount of petrol you burn.
- Remove excess weight. Roof-racks, trailers or unnecessary cargo will weigh your car down, forcing it to use more petrol. Have a spring-clean and get rid of some baggage.
- Get rid of snow and ice. Drivers in a hurry will often simply clear their windows before setting off. Leaving snow piled on your bonnet and roof, however, adds weight to your vehicle and costs you more in petrol, so it's worth taking an extra few minutes to remove it.
- Close the windows! While it’s nice to feel the wind in your hair on a hot summer's breeze, that cool breeze is blowing into your vehicle and making it less aerodynamic – which means you're paying more to be cool.
Check your tyre pressure: soft tyres require more petrol in order to properly them forward.
Did you know that the way you drive can cost you money? Tailgating, speeding, and not paying attention to the road can earn you speeding tickets and other fines, but they can also make you burn more fuel, and hence spend more money. Here's how:
Drivers who speed or tailgate are often forced to brake suddenly in order to avoid accidents. Constantly speeding up and slowing down, however, doesn't just increase your chances of being involved in a collision – it also burns more fuel. Instead, select a safe speed for your road conditions, and try to stick to it, keeping your fuel consumption as steady as your driving.
Making sure you stick to the speed limit, stay a safe difference from the car in front, and keep and eye on the road ahead is a smart move, in more ways than one.
You'll also save fuel by paying attention to the way you move off and park your vehicle. While many drivers will allow their engines to idle on a cold morning to allow it to warm up, it is, in fact, better to pull off immediately, so that you're not burning fuel but not getting anywhere. For the same reason, you should try to switch off your engine if you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, or waiting to pick up the kids from school.
Share your car
Car pooling is already commonplace in America, where many employers will help their staff arrange rotas for car-sharing. If you live close to your colleagues, a similar arrangement will save you money (as members of the car pool split petrol costs between them), and will also help the environment, as you're using just one car instead of several.
Switch to diesel
Diesel cars are experiencing a newfound popularity as UK drivers look for a cheaper alternative to the current high fuel prices. Diesels offer more economical fuel consumption, at much lower prices, so if you're thinking of changing your car, a diesel could be the sensible choice.
Shop Around for Your Fuel
Rather than letting habit dictate where you buy your fuel (normally the petrol station closest to your home or office), make a new habit of keeping up to date with local fuel prices. You could be surprised by the variation you'll find in prices, even within a reasonably small area, and driving an extra mile could save you money. Don't drive too far in your quest for the cheapest prices, though, or the money you save will be gobbled up by the extra petrol you use! In the past few years, a number of websites have sprung up which exist purely to help motorists find the best deals on fuel. PetrolPrices.com is just one example, but a quick Google search will throw up many more.
23 May 2006