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Make Holiday Driving Economical and Eco-friendly

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 2 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Driving Eco-friendly Economical Fuel

There’s no escaping the fact that driving hardly enjoys much of a reputation as an eco-friendly activity, while the escalating costs of motoring have made car-ownership an increasingly expensive way of getting around.

However, if you’re looking to holiday at home, the likelihood is that your car is going to play some part in the proceedings, even if only to get you to the railway station.

The good news is, just a few simple steps can make a big difference and help you go a long way towards making your holiday driving economical and eco-friendly too.

Energy Efficiency

When it comes to keeping down the costs of driving and reducing the carbon footprint of your car use, there’s one way to do both at the same time – and that’s watch your fuel consumption. Of course the idea’s simple enough – the more petrol or diesel you burn, the more emissions you release and the less money you have left in your wallet – but how do you achieve that in practical terms? The answer is all about a little anticipation added to one or two changes in your driving habits; the results can be surprising.Some of the tips are well known – but no less effective for that; always trying to drive smoothly and avoid sharp acceleration or hard braking may be old-hat, but it makes a difference.

So too does having your car properly serviced at the appropriate intervals to make sure that everything is running to its best, since just a few extra miles-per-gallon will soon begin to mount up. In the same way, ensuring that your tyres are always properly inflated to the correct recommended pressure can improve your fuel efficiency, with under-inflated tyres typically increasing your fuel consumption by around three per cent. You need to bear in mind how much weight you carry too – so don’t over-pack those holiday suitcases with things you won’t need – but do remember that a fully-occupied car produces far less carbon per passenger mile than one carrying the driver alone.

Holiday Checklist

As well as the servicing and the tyre pressure, your pre-holiday “to-do” list should also include a spot of careful route planning. In these days of Sat-Nav, it’s never been easier to find your way around, but it’s not just about stopping you getting lost – although that would mean that you’ll burn more fuel than you need to. Plan your journey wisely, taking road-works, rush-hours and congestion into account and you could see a significant reduction in your fuel use, costs and carbon debt – a win, all ways round!

Roof racks, top-boxes and bike carriers are another thing to think about in the run-up to your holiday, so ask yourself if you really need them. If you can’t get by without them then there’s not much you can do – but be aware that they will do hideous things to your car’s aerodynamics and all that extra wind-resistance adds up to greater fuel use. On the other hand, if you can dispense with them, do; you’ll really notice the difference.

Better Driving Habits

Once you’re on the open road, how you drive can have a big bearing on your car’s overall performance. Although the most efficient cruising speed depends on the type of car you drive, generally it’s around 55–65mph, and going faster simply increases your fuel consumption.

While it’s not always easy to maintain a steady speed, it’s worth doing so whenever it is possible, accelerating smoothly and changing gears appropriately to achieve it; looking ahead and reading the road can help keep things on an even keel. Keep an eye on your revs too – they’re the best guide to what the engine’s actually doing – and always try to use the highest gear you can – without making the engine labour. As a general guide, if you change up before you top 2,500rpm in a normal petrol car, you’ll be doing fine.

It may not always be possible to holiday without a car, however much you’d like to, but if you know how and where you can make a difference, there’s no reason why your holiday driving can’t be a lot more eco-friendly and economical.

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