Driving, for many of us, is an unavoidable and necessary means of transporting ourselves from A to B - be it to the shops, to work, or to see friends or family. There are over 30 million cars on the road, and that figure, if anything, is continuing to rise, given the increasing number of families with more than one car. All this is bad news for the environment - but did you know that there are ways to drive your car and keep the environment in mind?
From keeping a sensible speed to choosing a sensible car, drivers can do their bit to moderate and reduce the levels of CO2 their cars are emitting. To help you cruise your way into a greener way of driving, here are our top ten green driving tips - all as easy to implement as checking your mirrors and putting your seatbelt on.
1. Choose a Greener Car
Older models of car are much less efficient in terms of fuel consumption than newer cars - so opt for a more recent car over a larger but older version. And it goes without saying that the larger the car, the higher the levels of emissions. Be sensible, and pick a car that suits yours and your family's needs.
According to action group StopUrban4x4s, driving a 4x4 with 13 miles to the gallon compared to a 25 miles per gallon car for a year will waste more energy than leaving the fridge door open for 7 years, leaving the TV on for 32 years or leaving the bathroom light on for 34 years.
2. Consider A Hybrid Vehicle
An even more fuel efficient car you can choose is a hybrid model, which combines a petrol engine with a battery. If you're really going for a green option, you could consider an electric car.
3. Keep A Sensible Speed
The faster you go, the less miles you'll get to the gallon. You should always stick to the speed limit - to reduce the risk of an accident - but also to keep down your fuel consumption. At 70mph you could be using up to 30 per cent more fuel than at 50mph.
4. Reduce The Use of Gadgets And Gizmos
You might not realise it, but whenever you use a gadget in your car - from a mobile phone charger to air conditioning to radio - you're reducing the fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Consider if it's really necessary to use the item during the trip.
5. Driving Techniques
Taking a smart, sensible approach to driving will also help the environment. Sudden brakes and acceleration both impact how much petrol your vehicle is using. As much as possible, be aware of hazards well in advance so you can maintain your speed and only increase or reduce it gradually.
6. Check Your Tyres
It's important to ensure that your car is working to optimum performance, and inadequately pressured tyres will make your car work harder, and use more petrol. Check your tyre pressure every two to three months, or at the beginning of any long journey.
7. Use The Correct Gear
Change gear at the correct time to optimise fuel consumption. On average, you should change gears when your rev counter hits 2,500 (petrol cars), and 2,000 revs for a diesel model - refer to your car's handbook for model specifications. According to DirectGov: "a vehicle travelling at 37mph in third gear uses 25 per cent more fuel than it would at the same speed in fifth gear".
8. Switching Off and On
If you're stuck in traffic and know you won't be moving for a while, don't waste petrol - turn off the engine. The same goes for starting up. Only start the engine if you're ready to go - letting the engine sit and run whilst stationary is an expensive and unnecessary habit to get into.
9. Remove Unnecessary Weight
When you're not using storage or bike racks, take them off. This will reduce the wind resistance pressure on the car and allow it perform much better. The same goes for extra weight you might be storing in the boot of your car. Before any trip, empty your car of unneeded items and only carry the essentials.
10. Reduce Your Usage
Finally, consider before every journey if it's really necessary to use your car - or if it would be just as possible to walk, cycle or take an alternative mode of transport.