Sometimes there is no alternative to a car trip – but there are ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on driving, and you’ll help reduce your environmental impact too! To drive smarter you need to think about the type of car you own, the way you drive, the loads your carry and type of fuel the car uses. All these factors contribute towards the carrying emission levels caused by cars.

Could your next car be an electric or hybrid model?

New electric and hybrid cars are coming onto the market all the time, with government targets to phase out all diesel and petrol cars over the next few decades. Whilst initially more expensive to buy or lease, reduced running costs and exemptions mean whole-life costs can work out much lower. So, whilst you are doing your bit to help the environment, you could also be saving money!

Remember to follow the steps below:

  • If you’re looking to buy a new car, then car showrooms have fuel economy labels that show you how efficient each car is. It’s helpful to use this site when researching new cars. It will tell you the car’s fuel consumption as well as the exhaust emission figures.

    As well as traditional petrol and diesel engines, there are a range of vehicles that run on greener fuels.

    Electric cars are charged up at home overnight. They do not produce any emissions when they drive, but emissions are produced from electricity generation. On the other hand, if you get your home electricity from an exclusively ‘green energy’ electricity supplier, then you can bask in the green glow of a completely emissions-free car!

    Hybrid cars use a petrol engine combined with a battery. Hybrids are very fuel efficient and stand the test of great performance. Liquid petroleum gas fuelled cars are not yet available in the UK, but petrol cars can be converted to bring local air quality pollutant emissions in line with modern cars, but the engine needs to be well maintained in order to do this. is a great website if you are looking to find out more about the wide range of new electric, hybrid and hydrogen cars available. Use their handing savings calculator to see how much you could save, and explore the latest range of cars available.
    • Tyres – keep them inflated! If your tyres are under-inflated then you will use more fuel than usual as they increase rolling resistance, meaning your car needs more fuel to maintain speed.
    • Lights – make sure they work. Ask a friend or family member to check them whilst you’re in the car, or reflect them off a garage door to check if you’re alone.
    • Squeaky clean – it may be cold outside, but washing and cleaning your car, especially in winter will make sure your windows, lights and mirrors are clean, making it safe for you to drive.
    • Check it, top it – remember to check and top up fluids levels such as engine coolant, engine oil and brake fluid.
    • MOT: over a certain age, your car will need to be taken for a yearly MOT test to make sure it is roadworthy and meets environmental requirements.
    • Service – keep your car in good working order with a regular service. Have a look in your car manufacturer’s hand book to find out when this should be carried out.
    • Check your revs – change up a gear before 2,500rpm (petrol) and 2,000rpm (diesel).
    • Anticipate road conditions and drive smoothly, avoiding sharp acceleration and heavy braking. This saves fuel and reduces accident rates.
    • Use air conditioning sparingly, as it significantly increases fuel consumption.
    • The most efficient speed depends upon the car in question but is typically around 45 – 50mph. Faster speed will greatly increase your fuel consumption.
    • Drive away immediately when starting from cold – idling to heat the engine wastes fuel and causes rapid engine wear.
    • Accessories such as roof racks, bike carriers, and roof boxes significantly affect your car’s aerodynamics and reduce fuel efficiency, so remember to remove them when not in use.
    • Avoid short journeys – a cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel and catalytic converters can take five miles to become effective.
    • Plan your journeys to avoid congestion, road works and getting lost.
    • Check your tyre pressure regularly – under-inflated tyres are dangerous and can increase fuel consumption by up to 3%.If you’re stuck in a jam, switch the engine off if you expect to be there for more than a minute or two. Cutting the engine will save fuel and reduce emissions.
    (Advice courtesy of the Energy Saving Trust).