On the road:
Smooth driving; driving close to the speed limit; using a light foot on the accelerator; pacing to avoid red lights; avoiding “jackrabbit” starts; planning to reduce the frequency of stop signs on your route.
- A key factor in reducing fuel consumption is to reduce the load on your vehicle’s engine. In practice, this means adopting a smooth and even driving style. Rapid acceleration uses considerably more fuel; moderate acceleration uses less fuel. So-called “jackrabbit” starts from one stoplight to the next equate to a 2-4 per cent time saving in an hour, and a 37 per cent increase in fuel consumption, according to a study referenced by Natural Resouces Canada. In short: accelerate smoothly, brake in good time, try to maintain an even speed en route.
- Reduce unnecessary weight in or on the vehicle (this also reduces the load on your vehicle’s engine). Clean off the snow and ice in the winter, for example (it can be very heavy; why transport it?). Remove unnecessary items from the trunk and passenger cabin. A 50 kilogram reduction in weight equates to another 1-2 percent fuel savings.
- Avoid unnecessary idling. Except when driving in traffic, turn off your vehicle when waiting for extended periods of time.
- Drive at moderate speeds on the highway. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that an increase in speed from 110 to 125 km/h burns 15-percent more fuel; a decrease in speed from 110 to 90 km/h uses 15-percent less fuel. To achieve the latter, try using an alternative, two-lane highway, route on longer trips. Two-lane highways are often less travelled, more scenic, and can be more fun to drive than superhighways.
- Use a block heater in the winter. Set it to turn on two hours before you plan to use the car. You’ll find the interior of your car will warm up very quickly after you start the engine, eliminating the need for an auto-starter and saving fuel.
- Check your tire pressure. Under inflated tires can add another one-to-three percent to your fuel costs.
- Keep your vehicle’s engine in good condition. A key component is the air filter, an inexpensive part that can increase fuel consumption by up to 10-percent if clogged. It’s a simple fix.