Most Australians love their cars and love driving. But motorists face two serious problems – global economic downturn and global warming.
Unfortunately, motor vehicles are a significant contributor of human-caused carbon emissions and it is no longer acceptable to drive without regard for the environment.
By adopting EcoDriving strategies you can reduce your fuel consumption by up to 27% and that has to be good for the environment.
In February 2008, Murcotts conducted a televised controlled test that showed just by changing your driving vehicle emissions can be cut by nearly one third. We call it EcoDriving and every driver can develop the skills to reduce greenhouse emissions regardless of the type of vehicle you drive.
Here’s how you do it:
- EcoDriving is smooth driving – it avoids excessive acceleration or braking. It requires a mindset and takes practice and concentration. It will actually reduce your stress levels while driving.
- Maintain your vehicle - a poorly tuned vehicle can use up to 50% more fuel. Make sure you have your vehicle serviced regularly and ask that it be tuned for economic driving. Changing air, fuel and oil filters regularly is essential for efficient engine running. Wheel alignment is crucial to avoid drag from tyres that are not running true.
- One of the simplest changes you can make is to increase tyre pressure to reduce rolling resistance and tyre wear. For most sedans pressures of around 36 psi or 252 kpa will reduce fuel consumption by about 3%. Underinflated tyres cause damage as the sidewalls flex as the wheel rotates and the flexing absorbs energy hence more fuel use. Underinflated tyre walls can become damaged and can lead to tyre failure. Tyres will have a shorter life and discarded tyres add to pollution.
- Plan your trip - the shortest route may not necessarily be the most economical. Consider traffic congestion hot spots and times. A freeway may offer a free flowing run compared to stop start motoring on suburban streets. Hilly routes will consume more fuel especially if you are using cruise control.
- Stay-Back from the vehicle in front. By increasing your following distance you will increase your vision around vehicles in front and you will avoid the need to react to the frequently changing speeds of heavy traffic flows – the concertina effect that involves excessive accelerating and braking.
- Look-Up to scan for hazards and to improve your anticipation of traffic situations that cause stop start motoring.
- Reduce engine idling - if stopped in traffic such as at road works or at railway crossings turn off your engine but only if safe to do so.. Remember an idling engine delivers zero kilometres per litre.
- Vehicles do not need to be run at idle to warm up the motor. It is better to move off immediately which will help the engine to reach its normal operating temperature sooner. A cold idling engine produces more harmful emissions such as carbon monoxide.
- When moving off, accelerate smartly, up-shifting through manual gears early and manually shifting the auto transmission to regulate the up-shifts through your accelerator, avoiding high revs but reaching your optimum speed quickly. Sluggish driving uses more fuel.
- Reduce wind drag affects by removing items such as roof racks and roof top cargo carriers to streamline your vehicle as much as possible. Wind resistance increases dramatically at higher speeds and fuel use.
- Remove excess and heavy items from your vehicle. More weight means higher rolling resistance so increase tyre pressures when fully loaded - 40 psi for light vehicles, utes and SUVs.
- Cruise control - very useful for maintaining an even speed especially when driving automatics which will kick down increasing revs, sometimes with only a small increase in accelerator pedal. BUT cruise control can't see upgrades and hills and will usually change down part way up a grade causing high revs and fuel use. On undulating or hilly roads avoid cruise control and anticipate the climb by smoothly increasing speed to assist the climb easing off near the top so that braking is not needed on the down slope.
- Avoid the use of air conditioners where possible – at slow speeds wind down the windows but at higher speeds use the air conditioner with windows closed to reduce turbulence and resistance.
- When travelling with a loaded vehicle or towing over the holiday period reduce your highway speeds. Driving at 110kph uses up to 25% more fuel than driving at 90kph. Check tyre pressures on the towed vehicle to reduce rolling resistance as you have with the towing vehicle.
Now here is your bonus EcoDriving benefit. International research shows a strong link between smooth EcoDriving and reduced crash rates. In fact crashes are reduced by up to 35%.
So using EcoDriving techniques will not only save money and the planet but you and your family will be a lot safer.
Murcotts is an active member and adviser to the Low Emission Vehicle Automotive Partnership, an initiative of the RACV, EPA Victoria and Future Climate Australia. Shell is also an active supporter and the links below will get you in touch with the latest fuel science that is aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
The New Energy Future - A new energy future is dawning. It will be powered by multiple energy sources from cleaner fossil fuels to renewables. The world will be on the road to sustainable mobility. Government incentives and new technology will help reduce greenhouse gases and safeguard the environment. But society must also use energy more efficiently and secure more sources to meet surging long term demand. At Shell we're ready to help tackle the challenges of the new energy future. Read here for more information http://www.shell.com/home/content/responsible_energy/nef/
What might the the future hold - Join the taxi ride to a sustainable energy future - what would aliens observing us think about the future of our planet? Learn about the energy challenge and the two different ways in which the energy system could develop. http://www.shell.com/home/content/aboutshell/our_strategy/shell_global_scenarios/scenarios_videos/video