How fuel-efficient driving can save money
Did you know that you can save a lot of money by adopting new driving habits and techniques? Here are some quick tips for fuel-efficient driving:
- Don’t leave the motor running when the vehicle is stationary. Most vehicles do not need to be ‘warmed up’ except in very cold conditions and after long periods of non-use.
- Avoid speeding and hard acceleration. This can reduce fuel costs by up to 30–37% on motorways and by up to 5% around town. Watching ahead and using cruise control on motorways will also keep speed constant, which can lead to lower fuel consumption.
- Driving your car too hard can also cause costly wear and tear on the engine, tyres, transmission and brakes.
- Where possible, avoid driving during peak hour when there is lots of traffic congestion. This will help you to minimise ‘stop-start’ driving – which can increase fuel consumption by up to 30%.
- The faster you drive, the greater the wind resistance and fuel consumption. Open sunroofs and windows will also significantly increase fuel consumption at faster speeds – in some cases by as much as 20%.
- Turn off the air-conditioning. Using the air-con in your car can add up to 10% to your fuel costs. However when you are driving at 80km/h or over, it is better to use the air-con at the lowest setting rather than opening windows – at that speed open windows create aerodynamic drag, increasing fuel consumption.
- If the inside of your car is hotter than the outside, open the windows at the start of your trip for a few minutes, and let the heat out before starting the air-con. If it’s less than 18°C outside and you want to refresh the air in your vehicle, don’t open the windows or turn on the air-conditioning – use the vents instead.
- Minimise loads in utes and vans by only taking what you absolutely need to carry out your day’s work.
- If you have a number of vehicles and a large fuel bill, send yourself and your employees on an eco-driving course that teaches fuel-saving driving techniques.
Go Easy – the free online EcoDrive tool
Eco-driving initiatives in the heavy vehicle sector are already well-established as it can save a large amount of money. But what about passenger cars, four-wheel-drives and light commercial vehicles?
A RACQ EcoDrive trial involving 1,300 Queenslanders, showed that more careful driving can reduce your fuel bill by 4.6%. Their EcoDrive online training program encompasses driver behaviours, vehicle maintenance and trip-planning actions that all help to reduce fuel consumption.
The 4.6% fuel saving statistic was equivalent to a 0.51 litres per 100 kilometres (l/100km) reduction in fuel use among participants; and 15% of the people in the trial achieved a 15.1% or 1.71/100km reduction.
If you want to learn how to EcoDrive, the RACQ ‘Go Easy’ online learning tool can be accessed free of charge via: EnergyCut.info/go-easy
For more information about the RACQ EcoDrive initiative, visit EnergyCut.info/racq-eco-drive
Speed matters! At 110km/h your car can use up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90km/h.
Recharging vehicles with solar power
Neil Howitt of Albany Solar in WA has found an innovative way to get around paying excessive petrol bills.
He purchased a Mitsubishi 4WD Outlander PHEV, a hybrid car which combines a plug-in electric motor and petrol engine. When the vehicle is at his work place or home, he recharges the electric battery with the solar power that is not being used by his home or business.
The result is that all of Neil’s commuting and business activities in Albany results in his 4WD being entirely solar powered. The only time he needs to use petrol is when he travels to Perth or goes on holiday.
For very long journeys, the hybrid Outlander PHEV uses less petrol than a conventional 4WD. However where it operates best is for shorter journeys. If the journey is less than 100 km, with a fully charged battery the petrol engine can use as little as 1.9l of fuel per 100km.