The eco-friendly benefits of EVs may appeal to over three-quarters of UK adults but, whether due to budget restraints or charging concerns, not all vehicle owners can make the switch. For Earth Day (22 April) car finance platform CarFinance 247 has identified 12 cost-effective ways drivers can cruise cleanly and improve their fuel efficiency. 

Reduce how much you drive

In the UK, the transport sector is responsible for emitting more greenhouse gases than any other. Globally, transport accounts for around a quarter of CO2 emissions. So, driving less frequently is no doubt the biggest change you can make to help reduce your carbon footprint. 

Many of us adjusted to working through home amid Covid-19 so, if you haven’t already, why not suggest to your employer tackling your to-do list remotely one or two days a week? This will protect your budget too, as the average British employee spends £146 on their monthly commute.  

You could also aim to do one big shopping trip, rather than multiple. And for quick trips locally, walk — it’s healthier for you and the planet. Consider your lifestyle; if you live near amenities or there are regular buses and trains, do you need a car?

Car share where possible

Arrange to travel with a friend or colleague, whether it’s to work, going shopping, the school run or a social occasion. Take turns so it’s fair. Again, your bank balance will benefit too.

Watch your speed

Staying within the speed limit is vital for your own safety, while also being a greener way to get around. The Energy Saving Trust reports that the most fuel-efficient speed is 55-65mph. Driving at 70mph will see you use up to 9% more than at 60mph and up to 15% more than at 50mph.

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Book in for a service

MOTs are a legal requirement. Not only does maintaining your vehicle keep it running smoothy, but it also produces fewer emissions. Repairing any issues (in the exhaust, for example) can also improve fuel efficiency and ensure you don’t leave a trail of fumes in your wake.

Pump your tyres

An under-inflated tyre means your car’s engine must work harder so they turn properly, thereby using more fuel. The good news is fully pumped tyres last longer. The optimum tyre pressure varies from vehicle to vehicle but can usually be found inside the driver’s door. Better yet, there are now eco-friendly tyres available.

Plan your journey, avoiding peak time

No one likes sitting in traffic — and leaving the engine idling isn’t kind on your car, either. In fact, it’s estimated that an idling car produces up to 150 balloons of exhaust emissions containing chemicals every minute! If possible, leaving early in the morning (when you’ll likely feel fresher too) and check alternative routes. And when you are waiting at the lights or in traffic, turn off your engine as you’d be surprised how much this reduces the emissions.

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Maintain a steady speed

Stop-starting in traffic, or aggressively accelerating and braking, drains fuel too. Look at the road ahead and carefully consider your next action, slowing in good time if you can.

Avoid air conditioning

A refreshing blast of cold air is welcome on a warm day but opening your windows and enjoying the fresh air is a good (and green) way to keep cool.

Keep an eye on your fuel

Faults with your fuel pump, fuel filter, fuel lines or fuel injectors is detrimental to fuel efficiency. If you catch a whiff of fuel or notice it’s dripping from the tailpipe, book an appointment at your garage. Inside your car, look at the dashboard to understand how many miles per gallon you’re averaging. 

Turn your music down

If you love listening to motivational music down the motorway or tuning into your favourite radio DJ, enjoying it at a lower volume is the eco-friendly way (and so what if you’re singing is a little louder? Other drivers are too focused on their journey to notice!).

Remove extra weight

The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses. Prioritise a car clean-out so you only transport essentials and think twice about taking an extra suitcase away with you.

Fill the right way

How you refill your car makes a real difference. Over-filling once the pump stops raises the risk of harmful vapours escaping your tank. Ensure you screw the cap tightly to avoid spillage, too.

Earth Day: Motor finance that doesn’t cost the earth