We’re all tightening our belts, padlocking our wallets and looking for ways to save our hard-earned dosh, but do you ever feel like you’re pouring your paycheck straight into your fuel tank? Let’s take a look at the facts. In 2012, Australian cars consumed 31,839 million litres of fuel. The national average price of petrol in 2013 was over $1.40/litre. Not only are our car-dependent lifestyles expensive, but the environment is also paying a hefty price – Australia’s 11 million cars produce more than 46 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your spending and your carbon footprint, check out our top tips for living a fuel efficient lifestyle.
Choose The Right Car
It’s important to choose the right car for your lifestyle, so if fuel efficiency and environmental impact are important to you, consider these factors from the outset of purchasing a vehicle. Small or compact vehicles offer more fuel efficiency while hybrid vehicles offer more environmentally friendly options.
Keep Cool Without The Aircon
Air conditioning is a major draw on a car’s fuel reserves. Whether hot or cold, try to decrease the amount of time you use your car’s air conditioning. Park in shady spots and use window shields to keep the sun and heat out of your car. If your car interior is hot, open the windows to let the hot air out and begin driving before you turn on the air conditioner. Letting the hot air escape will put less pressure on your air conditioner to cool the car interior.
Reduce Your Drive Time
One of the best ways to increase your fuel efficiency is to use your car less. We know it may seem obvious, but without swapping your Prado for a push-bike, there are a few things you can do to reduce your time on the road without impacting your lifestyle.
- Avoid Peak Hour: In some cases, this may be easier said than done, particularly if you commute to work in your car. However, avoiding congested roads, traffic jams, and peak times where your car idles forlornly in traffic is a great way to reduce your drive time and save fuel. If you don’t need to be on the road during peak times, choose an alternate time to travel.
- Plan Your Trip: Or, we could call this section Use your GPS! Know where you’re going instead of wasting time and fuel on wrong turns and no thru roads. Plug your destination into your GPS or map app on your smartphone and get to your destination, frustration and fuel wastage-free!
- Combine and Conquer: Combine errands, outings and appointments to minimise the amount of time you spend driving to and from destinations. Arrange to have a coffee catch-up at a cafe around the corner from your dentist appointment and pick up your groceries on the way home.
- Walk, Ride or Roll: Is your destination close enough to walk? Don’t be lazy and hop into the car to go three minutes down the road – use bi-pedal transport instead (that means use your feet). Half an hour of walking burns an average of 100 calories, so work off your morning latte while you walk to the cafe. If it’s a bit farther, pedal a push-bike or hop on public transport and watch the world roll by.
Love Your Car
Love your car and it will love you back. Keeping your ride in ship-shape condition also increases fuel efficiency.
- Service Your Car: A serviced car is a happy car. Taking your car in for regular checkups, tune ups and top ups will reduce the amount of wear on components, which will keep your car fuel efficient for longer. Remember to double-check engine oil and tyre pressure; these are good safety checks that may save you the bother of a breakdown or flat tyre. Having Roadside Assistance cover will also take the hassle out of a breakdown!
- Pack Light: An extra 40kgs in your car could reduce your fuel efficiency by 1%. If it’s not necessary for the trip, take it out of the car. This means clearing out rubbish, spare shoes, the box of clothes you keep meaning to drop off at the salvos, or the surfboard you permanently store in the car “just in case.”
- Minimise Drag: If you’re not using it for a trip, take the roof rack/bike rack off your car. While these extras may be useful periodically, they increase the drag on your vehicle, decrease its aerodynamic design, and reduce fuel efficiency by up to 20%.
Drive Like Your Nana
Not only is aggressive driving dangerous, it’s also a leading culprit in reducing your car’s fuel efficiency. For every litre of petrol used in a car, the exhaust emits 2.3 kilograms of carbon dioxide. So, next time you get in the car remember to SLAB:
- Stick to the speed limit
- Leave space between you and other cars in traffic
- Accelerate steadily, and
- Brake lightly
Moderated driving will get you to your destination as safely and fuel efficiently as possible!
The Final Word: Killing Two Birds With One Stone
If you’re worried about the increasing costs of using your vehicle to both your bank account and the environment, try out some of these tricks of the trade for a more fuel efficient lifestyle. One final tip to save you a bit more cash: shop around for the best price on fuel. Fuel prices can vary widely from suburb to suburb, so make sure that you compare the prices close to you to get the best deal possible. Happy driving!