How Green Can You Be?

The Green Vehicle Guide ( has a great starter for people wanting to understand the principles of driving efficiently. Hereís a combination of what they say and some added extras from us.

Minimise your vehicle use

Plan to do a number of errands in one trip rather than several trips and save both time and fuel (for the first couple of minutes of a car trip the engine is cold and this results in an increase in fuel consumption per kilometre). Also avoid peak-hour traffic whenever possible.

Drive in high gear

The engine runs most efficiently between around 1,500 and 2,500 rpm (lower in diesels). To maintain these low revs you should change up through the gears as soon as practical and before the revs reach 2,500 rpm. Automatic transmissions will shift up more quickly and smoothly if you ease back slightly on the accelerator once the car gathers momentum.

Drive smoothly - avoid unnecessary acceleration

Drive at a good distance from the car in front so you can anticipate and travel with the flow of traffic. This avoids unnecessary acceleration and frequent repetitive braking that ends up wasting fuel. It's also far safer. Avoid hard acceleration and braking. Flow with the traffic Ė smooth driving can reduce fuel consumption by up to 30%. Donít rest your left foot on the brake of an automatic vehicle Ė the extra drag increases fuel consumption by 5%.

Minimise fuel wasted in idling

Minimise fuel wasted in idling by stopping the engine whenever your car is stopped or held up for an extended period of time. By having the engine switched off, even for a short period, you will save more fuel than is lost from the burst of fuel involved in restarting the engine. The net increased wear and tear from this practice is negligible.

Speed kills economy

High speeds result in high fuel consumption. At 110 km/h your car uses up to 25% more fuel than it would cruising at 90 km/h.

Minimise aerodynamic drag

Additional parts on the exterior of a vehicle such as roof racks and spoilers, or having the window open, increases air resistance and fuel consumption, in some cases by over 20%.

Look after your vehicle's tyres

Inflate your vehicle's tyres to the highest pressure recommended by the manufacturer and make sure your wheels are properly aligned. Looking after your tyres will not only reduce your fuel consumption it will also extend tyre life and improve handling.

Use air conditioning sparingly

Air conditioners can use about 10% extra fuel when operating. Open a window slightly for fresh air. However, at speeds of over 80 km/h, the use of air conditioning is efficient than the drag created by an open window.

Travel light

The more a vehicle carries the more fuel it uses; an extra 50kg of weight can increase your fuel bill by 2%.

Service your vehicle regularly

Keeping your vehicle well tuned will minimise its environmental impact.

I would add the following:

Donít accelerate UP a hill.

Wherever possible maintain your current speed or even allow your vehicle to slow down a little while ascending a hill. Your consumption is multiplied by a factor of 5 or 6 if you overtake someone up hill. However, donít become a danger to your fellow travelers Ė traveling at speeds substantially slower than the posted limit can expose you and others to risk. Only allow your vehicle to decelerate to a speed that remains reasonable to those around you. Donít allow your environmentalism to become the target of road rage.

Become conscious of your right foot's relationship with your accelerator pedal.

Iíve heard one person suggest you should consider there is an egg between your foot and the accelerator pedal. I had to think about this for a moment, but itís true. You can use more fuel without advantage if you rest your foot heavily on the accelerator. The accelerator is what dictates how much fuel is supplied to the engine. The heavier you press, the more fuel is delivered. You may find that you can release pressure on the accelerator without losing speed. By resting your foot lightly you can reduce the amount of fuel that is fed into the engine.

Pay attention to traffic conditions

Are you the person who thinks a green light is your one chance at freedom, or are you the other person who looks at the vehicle beside them charging off at a green and thinks to yourself ĎIíll see you at the next set of lights!í?

In traffic conditions and the way in which traffic lights are programmed it is highly unlikely that aggressive driving will get you to work (or home) sooner. By contrast, itís a fact that aggressive driving can cost you upwards of $1000 per year.

In the same vein, pay attention to what is ahead. If you see a red light (or an impending one) ease off the accelerator and coast toward it Ė in most modern cars, a car that is coasting is using virtually no fuel Ė this is the cheapest moments of your transport! Learn the rolling friction characteristics of your car which will help you estimate how far your car can roll without encouragement.

Choose a mood

A calm mood can be greener! A more relaxed driver will accelerate smoothly from a standing start, maintain a more consistent speed, place less pressure on the accelerator and coast to a red light. To help you get in the mood (so-to-speak) banish the dance/trance/heavy metal/thrash music to the home and develop a great collection of Jazz for driving to.