Stop-start technology shuts down the engine when the car comes to a stop and the driver shifts gear into neutral. Then it restarts when the driver presses the clutch ready to shift into first. Stop-start systems are increasingly common in new models, and while not all drivers are fans of the technology, there’s no denying it does save fuel – around 8% according to one recent study, which means an 8% reduction in harmful emissions. And in our towns and cities where air pollution from traffic is way above safe limits, every step to clean up the air is welcome.
Many people are put off switching to a zero-emission electric car because of concerns around range and limited availability of charging points. But a plug-in hybrid offers the best of both worlds –
switching between pure electric at lower speeds, and efficient petrol power at higher speeds and on long journeys. Hybrids can be incredibly fuel efficient, with some models delivering more than 60mpg. And while this type of advanced tech doesn’t come cheap, the good news is that government grants of up to £3,500 are available to help with the purchase of a brand new low-emissions vehicle.
The lighter and more aerodynamic your car, the more fuel efficient it will be. So if you fitted a roof box for a summer road trip, or you pack a bike rack at the weekends, take it off when you’re not using it. And if you drive to work every day with a set of golf clubs or a child’s pram in the boot, find room for them at home. Because it’s better to clutter up your garage than wreck your fuel efficiency and pump out extra emissions into the atmosphere.
The more fuel you burn, the higher your emissions, and the secret to improving your fuel efficiency is to drive smoothly. Don’t accelerate hard from traffic lights and junctions, and don’t over-rev your engine – because the higher the revs, the higher your fuel consumption. So when you’re accelerating, change up at around 2,000 rpm if you drive a diesel, and around 2,500 rpm if you’re running on petrol. Check your tyre pressure regularly too, because underinflated tyres create higher rolling resistance and reduce your fuel efficiency.