Our practical guide to help reduce your emissions behind the wheel of your car
Okay, let us start by addressing the elephant in the room – yes driving is not the cleanest way to travel, but the reality is that many of us depend on a car for our everyday lives.
So, unless you drive an electric vehicle, you may be looking at how you can reduce your carbon footprint as much as humanely possible if you need to drive.
Luckily, we are here to tell you that achieving this feat is much easier than most would expect – all it takes is a few small changes to your driving behaviour.
Still intrigued? Great. Let’s get started!
1. Turn off your engine
Let’s get started with a simple one.
Whenever you are in your beloved car, make sure you only have the engine on when you are needing to drive.
So, when you’re waiting outside your mate’s house, in the cold depths of winter, it may be tempting to turn on the engine and blast the heat towards your face, but think of Greta Thunberg…
Instead, maybe pack some thermal gear, or find some friends who are better at timekeeping.
According to Confused, an idling engine (running when stationary) may produce up to twice the emissions, compared to when you are driving your vehicle. So turn off your engine, especially if you are in built-up areas or close to schools.
2. Sharing is caring
Does your morning commute need to be livened up a little?
Why not invite your favourite colleague, or friend to share a lift to work/ school.
We won’t patronise you by telling you the obvious fact that 1 car produces less emissions than 2 cars (Okay, maybe we did tell you). But you can also save money and create a deeper friendship!
Ride-sharing often means you will share the cost of fuel and parking, which you would spend normally – but it will also give you some peace of mind knowing that you are helping Mother Earth.
Of course, it’s important for us all to abide by Government restrictions imposed for the Covid-19 pandemic. Please keep up to date with this guidance and only travel with others if you are legally allowed to do so.
To check the current restrictions, please click here.
3. Watch your weight
We don’t mean that you need to start counting your calories and going to the gym – quite the opposite (eat whatever makes you feel happy).
But you may want to look at whether you have any bulky items or unnecessary weight inside your beloved car.
Maybe it’s a stack of work that you couldn’t be bothered to hike into your house, or the washing you’re leaving in there until you next see Mum.
Whatever you can remove will help – in fact, Autoblog saw that ‘eliminating ten percent of the weight provides a 4.1 percent mileage boost and a dramatically significant twenty percent weight decrease improved fuel economy by 8.4 percent’.
Okay, so 10% is probably a lot more than just some work or washing, but the principal remains – your fuel efficiency will go up if you have a spring clean of your cars’ interior. The less fuel you use, the better for the environment after all.
4. Top Gear?
We are not going to tell you how to drive (Unlike Jeremy Clarkson – or whoever presents the show nowadays).
But, we recommend trying to drive in the highest gear suitable for the speed you are travelling – especially if you are on the open road or driving at a constant speed.
It’s a little more difficult in an urban environment, but the rule still applies, if possible. Driving in a higher gear can help increase your miles per gallon and save your time at the pump.
But, if your car is groaning or judders, this may be an indication that you have shifted up too early. You will often know the capabilities of your own car better than the manufacture, so adapt your driving style to go up through the gears a little faster.
Some cars will indicate on the dashboard when you should shift up and down (manual cars) – so follow this advice for the greatest fuel economy.
5. Slow Down
Okay – not to sound like your mother, but maybe take your foot off the accelerator slightly.
Not only is driving within the speed limits much safer for you and your passengers, but it can also reap some benefits for the environment.
When travelling at a higher speed, or quickly accelerating, your car burns much more fuel than if you were to do the opposite.
We aren’t saying that you should travel at 10mph in a 40mph zone, but instead, to be conscious than exceeding the speed limit can have ecological downsides, as well as financial (especially if you get caught speeding).
But according to Toyota “most vehicles’ gas mileage starts to tank at speeds above 50 mph”. So if you can avoid going at high speeds, your fuel economy will thank you.
So, should you avoid motorways?
So we’ve told you that reducing your speed can help to improve your mileage on your car, and thus help your carbon footprint.
Because of this, you would assume that you should avoid motorways, right?
Going back to an earlier point about using the highest gears; according to the RAC, driving on the motorway in your highest gear is actually the most ecologically friendly way to travel.
Not only will you often avoid heavy conditions, compared to urban roads, but you will often also have to accelerate hard less often (compared to stopping and starting), which can help with your emissions.
So, plan journeys ahead of time to utilise these types of roads. It is also recommended to look at peak traffic times and avoid them if you can – or find alternative routes which mean you aren’t caught in rush hour delays.
Did you know? At insurethebox, we actually reward our customers for driving on the motorway – by incentivising all policy holders with Bonus Miles for miles driven on these types of roads.
We have just scratched the surface of ways you can help reduce your carbon emissions in your car; the fact is there are a million and one ways to reduce your emissions. Driving will never be the cleanest way no travel, but this does not mean you should stop using your car.
So, follow our simple steps to change some of your driving habits to help cut back wherever possible, and be safe in the knowledge that you are making a positive impact on your carbon footprint.
If we all made small changes, we can help create a cleaner future.