The fuel duty and VAT make up over 45% of the price of a litre of petrol or diesel while the supplier, retailer and delivery of the fuel share the rest, a scary statistic and one that shows how much power the government actually do have to impact the prices we pay.
With this in mind, and while the government are reluctant to offer us any real help, we have put together the following list of tips to help you make the most of the fuel you buy. Really, a lot of these are tips that we can make use of no matter what the price of fuel is as they would help with us all in being greener and becoming carbon net zero while saving a penny or two – the things that Freebies are all about.
Avoid just going for the most local petrol station, they always seem to be at least a few pence per litre more expensive than the supermarkets that you are doing your grocery shopping at anyway or an alternative station you wouldn’t usually go to. To get really savvy use a phone ap that gives you all the fuel prices at the local stations to get the best possible price. If you are an AA member they offer an app that can help you as part of their member features but if you’re not, Petrol Prices have a free service you can sign up with instead.
Keep It Clean
Keep your cars paintwork washed and clean and free from things like roof racks, roof boxes and roof bars and you will gain improved aerodynamic performance which will aid keeping your fuel usage down while having the side effect of making your car look great.
Pump It Up
Keeping your tyre pressures at the correct levels can not only improve the efficiency of your car but also extend the lifetime of your tyres by decreasing uneven wear and sidewall damage. Most modern cars will have a sticker on the inside of one of the front doors, or along the door frame, that indicates the correct pressure you should be running at which usually depends on the number of passengers or weight you are carrying so check carefully.
Drop The Weight
Carrying around additional unneeded weight in your car is going to mean more mass for the engine to move and therefore more fuel needed to do so. Remove unneeded items you may be lugging around for no reason.
Also take a logical approach to how much fuel you put in your car. The fuel you carry around adds to the weight your engine is having to move around but you have to judge what works for you. Having to constantly fill up to try and offset carrying too much weight in fuel might actually work against you if the price has gone up every time you go back to the pump.
Fifty Is Thrifty
Since the cost of living crisis in the 70’s and the associated fuel shortages of the time, 50 has been pushed as a thrifty speed to travel at. There have been more recent studies that suggest 56 is the most economic speed but that’s mainly to do with vehicles fuel consumption being tested at 3 different speeds of which 56mph was the most efficient.
The latest indications suggest around 45-55 works best for the majority of cars but there are a number of factors that effect this, such as engine size and MPG, but it looks like fifty is thrifty is still a good approximate rule of thumb. If you want a detailed look at if there is an optimal speed that saves fuel and money check out this article.
Loose The Boot
Driving with a heavy right foot can dramatically increase your fuel usage, accelerating hard only to have to brake hard doesn’t make much sense on the modern packed roads so driving with a lighter foot on both the accelerator and brake is going to definitely help with fuel efficiency as well as brake wear. Also consider driving like this rarely gets you where you are going to any faster.
Take a Hike
Its summer and of all the times of the year this is the perfect one to walk, scoot, bike or trike that short journey. Its healthy and uses zero fuel – the very best way to save money on your fuel bill.
Use The Cruise
Using cruise control on long motorway drives can make your driving style more efficient, it’s not going to make a massive difference, but it can pass off the job of thinking about a more efficient driving style over to the car itself. Even if you don’t have cruise control you can replicate this effect yourself by trying to be as consistent as possible with your speed when driving.
Use The Tech
Finding the best route is not always easy and if you don’t know the area its easy to end up going round in circles and wasting fuel on finding your destination, at the other end of the scale its easy to fall into the trap of going a certain way just because you always have, not even considering if its still the best, shortest and most efficient route.
Maybe it’s time to break out your phone and use google maps to get the most efficient journey plus you also get the added benefit of google maps monitoring traffic and therefore getting you there in the quickest possible time. Just remember to make sure you have an appropriate phone mount so you don’t get in trouble with the law. Check some out here at Halfords
Take The Heat
Turning off the AC puts less load on the engine and therefore uses less fuel so if you can, it can be a valuable fuel saving technique. Instead, you can try opening the windows and sunroof, this works especially well in traffic or at lower speeds as the aerodynamic efficiencies are somewhat lost with the windows open at higher speeds.
Think About It
To save more money on fuel while driving you have to be looking ahead as much as possible, constantly carefully judging the road and driving with a style that means you are trying not to lose too much momentum while also always trying to be in the highest possible gear for the speed you are doing. This is often referred to as Hypermiling and can give surprising results, just check out the top gear episode and how they got on.
This is a big one and will obviously either dramatically reduce your petrol and diesel use or remove it all together so maybe consider swapping out your full diesel or petrol car for either a hybrid or full EV.
Getting a brand new car may not be at the top of your list of ways to spend your money right now but it could make a lot of sense economically when you actually do the numbers. Signing up with an electricity supplier like Octopus and using their Go tariff could allow you to drive your car for as little as 2p a mile and means it’s a lot easier justifying spending the money. You could take this one step further and also get solar panels installed on your house and start charging your car for free. Electric cars also come with the added benefit of usually being road tax free which could be saving you additional hundreds every year on top.
You also don’t have to buy brand new. Companies like Cinch offer second hand quality cars that mean it won’t cost the earth in more ways than one to go electric. Also don’t worry too much about it being suggested it’s not good for the environment throwing away your old car to replace it with a newer electric one, who really just throws away their old car, try webuyanycar.com if you want an easy way to sell on your old car or maybe Ebay if you like the thrill of an auction but remember, however you sell it, currently there are plenty of people willing to buy and run it until its natural end of life so you won’t be negatively affecting the environment by switching to an EV today.