28 July 2020

How to save fuel and the planet when driving

Reduce your carbon footprint in four simple steps…

Written by Freddie Roux

I don't know about you but for me, the lockdown period has been an interesting and reflective period. I did the whole homemade sourdough bread thing, made a few DIY masks and gave myself a terrible haircut. Since ‘normality’ has returned, I've been back to the bakery 3 times a week and have a very decent haircut. One thing that I did enjoy about lockdown was the pause, the sudden reduction that we took as a society towards consumption. Nature was appearing in places it hadn’t been able to, there was a reduction in noise and the air was noticeably cleaner. As I packed my car to embark on my staycation, I wondered if there was a way to put my driving to test and see how much I could reduce my CO2 production by driving better. I wondered if would modifying my behaviour have an effect on fuel consumption. The answer is yes I could and yes it did and the good news is that below are the key ways I did it! 

Let’s talk facts...

To make this trip as useful as possible I knew I needed to get some hard and concrete proof. What I needed were facts and figures for how much fuel and therefore how much CO2 could be reduced. 

"As a self-proclaimed guinea pig, I submitted myself to rigorous test conditions for a round trip from London to St Ives, Cornwall."

On the way out: I drove as I usually would and I didn't pay any attention to the car's setup. Of course, I always respect the speed limits.

On the way back: I drove using government recommendations on how to drive more economically. I also changed the settings of my Mercedes A-Class to eco mode and I used the tools in the car to maximize the chances of saving fuel.   

So there it is, there is the evidence. By putting a few simple steps in place i was able to benefit my pocket and the planet. ‘But what were the steps?’ i hear you ask, well, read on!

1. Maintain a steady speed

A simple principle that has impressive results in terms of fuel savings. The more you can avoid jerking, braking, over accelerating and decelerating the better. Try as much as possible to maintain a stable speed throughout the entire trip. 

The secret to doing so? Cruise control and the "eco" settings of the Mercedes A-Class. They allow you to reach the permitted speed with a progressive acceleration even if you press the pedal a little hard.

4 step tutorial to set up your Mercedes A-Class in eco mode

1. Between the two front seats, you'll find a central control.
2. On the driver's side is the 'Dynamic' button.
3. Press this button
4. Select the "Eco" option

2. Drive slower

Research has shown that by driving at 60mph instead of 70mph on the motorway we can save 1 litre every 60 miles. Generally speaking, above 55mph the car consumes more fuel. 

Personally, I found this quite difficult, especially when there are other drivers in a hurry who want to pass you every time. So, I found the right compromise for me: replace a stretch of highway with a piece of National Highway (limited to 60mph). If you do this on a Friday around the M25, chances are you’ll save sitting in traffic at the same time. 

3. Take it easy on the air conditioning (or heating)

The constant use of air conditioning or heating is said to increase the level of consumption by 1 to 7%. The best option is to only put the air conditioning on periodically throughout the journey. Better still, if you travel first thing in the morning or in the evening you can escape the hot hour of the day!

4. Light departure

Do you really need so much stuff that you need a roof box? Could you reduce some of your packing to reduce the weight? You probably can… well, an overloaded car can consume up to 10% more energy. Nowadays you can rent everything: bikes, fishing rods, surfboards... enjoy the sharing economy and save on fuel. 

So put these simple steps in place during your next rental and don't hesitate to share with us all the other tricks you put in place to have a more ecological driving. 

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