How well you drive and look after your car, whatever model it is, has a big effect on its efficiency. Start today and you can reduce emissions, save fuel and money.

1. Pump tyres to the correct pressure
Driving with flat tyres can mean you use up to 8% more fuel.

2. Close your windows
Driving with open windows can mean you use 5% more fuel.

3. Turn off your air conditioning/heating
This can reduces fuel consumption by 5–10%. Try a blanket to keep warm in the winter instead, and open air vents to cool down in the summer.

4. Empty your boot
Excess weight or drag costs you fuel. Get rid of the roof rack if you're not using it; take the golf clubs out of the boot.

5. Switch off
If you are stationary with the engine on you are doing zero miles per gallon. Switch it off if you are stopped for more than a couple of minutes.

6. Service your car often
Regular servicing should pay for itself in saved fuel.

7. Drive smoothly
...and use higher gears as much as possible.

8. Choose to cruise
Pick uncongested routes if possible; cars are more efficient at higher cruising speeds.

9. Slow down on the motorway
The fuel needed to overcome drag (resistance from the surrounding air) increases with the driving speed.

10. Combine or share trips
Save time, effort and money by using the car to run several errands at a time. Or, better still, share lifts with friends and neighbours. You can find people who are interested in doing this on the Liftshare website.

How to buy a greener car

Next time you buy a car, consider the newest model you can afford, and whether you can go down a size: less weight means less fuel and fewer CO2 emissions.

New developments in fuels, engines, aerodynamics and ultra-lighting all have the potential to make cars much more efficient…and they’ll be here all the quicker if we demand them.

Is it greener to stick with an old car or buy a new one?
Over a car’s life, from production to destruction, most of its emissions of greenhouse gases are down to the fuel it burns, and EU legislation means that average car efficiencies are improving rapidly. So if your car is an old one, getting rid of it for a newer and – if possible – smaller one is a greener option than hanging on to your banger.

How can I find out if a car is green?
Look for the label. New cars are now sold with efficiency labels, just like fridges. Some secondhand dealers have taken up the labelling scheme too. Even if they don't offer this service, you can check how much a particular model emits on the Vehicle Certification Authority website. The crucial measurement is how much CO2 per kilometre they emit, and there is surprising variation, with cars of about the same size and class varying as much as 45%.

Can green cars save me money?
Cars are now taxed according to how much carbon dioxide and other pollutants they emit, so if you buy the right one you can save money. You can even get exemption from paying the London Congestion Charge if you buy some models. Check details on the Transport for London website.

With thanks to Steven Snodgrass for the image.

Footer