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'Saving Fuel, Saving Pennies'

We all want to save our pennies, especially in today's harsh economic climate. As you may no doubt have heard, there are relatively simple ways to conserve your fuel consumption, and stretch that budget a little further.

The obvious one of course is to apply gentle pressure to the accelerator pedal, and try not to over-rev the engine. Imagine you have a 50 note glued to your accelerator pedal, and every time you press down on that pedal and race away, you are chipping away at that 50 ! Aim for soft and gradual acceleration, consider first curling the toes of the right foot, rather than pushing down with the whole of the foot. Make for a smooth journey, not a jerky one.

Glance down at the rev counter as you accelerate away, and come to learn where the rev needle lies as the car moves along, and how it reacts when you perform a gear change : generally a quiet and smooth upward gear change will occur between 2000 and 3000 rpm. The more imperceptible the gear change, the less fuel is being used.

Slow down a little earlier for traffic lights : if they've been red for as long as you've seen them, then they're likely to shortly change to green. Rather than stop cold, and then accelerate hard away, if you can keep rolling with a little momentum and time the lights changing then your momentum will carry you through the junction and into a gentler acceleration.

Over-inflating the tyres by a unit or two can improve fuel consumption by essentially making the car lighter ; this is especially useful for long journeys or where you may be carrying a heavy load. Likewise, removing roof racks and roof boxes when not in use will make the vehicle more aerodynamic, and thus consume less fuel.

Consider reversing onto your driveway or into your parking bay at work or at the supermarket. When you come to depart, not only are you doing so legally (from home, where you join a main road), but you have improved forward visibility, and if the engine's been idle and cold for a fair amount of time, you use less fuel going forward than going backwards ! If you're anxious about reversing, why not take refresher lessons with a driving instructor.

Finally, if you think or you know your car will be stationary for about a minute (possibly longer for an older car), consider turning the engine off. Why waste the fuel you've only just paid to put in if you're not going anywhere ? The engine is idling, and all that the unused fuel is doing is leaving your exhaust. The next time you're at your usual junction, why not try counting the seconds until your red light changes to green, and remember that for next time, timing when to switch off your engine and for how long. Traffic jams, railway crossings, 4-way roadworks, large and complex traffic light junctions are all excellent opportunities to save fuel, and therefore pennies !

I hope these suggestions will inspire you !

Nathaniel Reed, of

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