How Simple Driving Tips Can Help You Save Big at the Pumps

Even if you drive a luxury sports car, there are easy ways to reduce the amount of fuel you consume.

If you put out a survey and asked the question “Would you like to reduce the amount of gasoline they use when it comes to the operation of a motor vehicle”, it seems obvious that the vast majority would answer ‘yes’.

There are two immediate and obvious benefits to reducing the amount of fuel you use when driving – you save money and you reduce the amount of carbon emissions you create which ultimately contribute to global climate change.

Auto manufacturers are pouring huge amounts of money into fuel efficiency R&D and the end results are a vast array of alternative propulsion and internal-combustion engine vehicles that are far more fuel-efficient than they were even a decade ago.  However for those who are not in a position to buy a newer, fuel-efficient vehicle there is another facet to consider that can also have a positive effect on the amount of fuel you use.

Essentially, it’s not always WHAT you drive, but HOW you drive.

Fuel-efficient driving involves a lot of simple, common-sense elements that when regularly utilized have the potential to offer significant reductions to your fuel consumption.  I’ve talked about these techniques many times before on television and in interviews, but I had yet to actually provide a real-life demonstration of these tips to show actual results.

That is, until now…

Have a look at this video in which I carry out a real-world demonstration of how you can carry out big reductions in fuel consumption simply by adjusting your driving style.  In the video I drive a beautiful 2014 Jaguar F-Type convertible (remember it’s not what you drive, but how you drive) on a pre-determined route twice.  The first time around the route I drove aggressively trying to mimic many of the driving techniques we all see on the road today (and likely do ourselves).  At the end of the route I record the fuel consumption achieved as well as the distance travelled.

The second time around the exact same route I changed my driving style and implemented a few simple to understand and implement techniques – each of them designed to reduce the amount of fuel I use.  At the end of the route I recorded my results again and then compared the difference between the two results.

The tips utilized and results achieved are listed at the bottom of the article, but watch the video first to see how it all panned out:

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When I first decided to attempt this demonstration, my prediction was that I would net a fuel savings of somewhere between 10-15%.  To achieve 25% savings went beyond my expectations, but it proved just how beneficial it can be to change the way we drive.  Not only does this represent dramatic reductions in carbon emissions, it also can possibly net big savings as well!

If presumably I spent $100 per week on gas normally, by achieving this type of reduction on an ongoing basis, the possible savings on fuel alone could amount to about $1300 annually!  

It’s important to note that these results may not be typical in all situations.  The tests were done back to back, outside of taking a 30 minute lunch break in-between.  This meant that road and traffic conditions were essentially the same for both laps.  In the 2nd lap I was very deliberate to not partake in any technique that could be considered ‘hyper-miling’.  While the F-Type has an Eco button, I did not have it engaged during either lap as I wanted this to be as representative of other results achieved in different vehicles as possible.  While adopting the techniques listed below which I utilized in this test, the exact savings achieved by someone will vary – but suffice to say, there will indeed be savings!

Results can also differ depending on time of year, road conditions, vehicle weight and other factors.  I also acknowledge that a 56 KM route is not as comprehensive as it could be, however I’m sure that if given more time to complete larger loops, the results would still likely be dramatic.

So here now are the tips I practised and utilized during the second lap of the drive route, and wound up netting me fuel efficiency improvements of 25%.

  • When starting from a full stop, I gradually accelerated and increased my speed as opposed to doing so rapidly.
  • While driving, I tried to maintain an even and consistent speed as much as possible.
  • In heavy traffic situations, I observed traffic conditions ahead of me and anticipated traffic-flow as best I could, only using as much energy to go forward as was required to keep pace with traffic in front of me.
  • When driving on a decline, I took my foot off the gas pedal and used the existing momentum to carry me forward, only beginning to accelerate again when the pitch of the road changed.
  • When approaching a stop sign or a traffic light, I anticipated the need to stop and coasted to decelerate, only applying the brakes at the end when necessary.
These simple to follow techniques were all I utilized at that moment to achieve the savings I did.  Additionally, however there are other techniques that anyone can keep in mind to maximize fuel savings and save big at the pumps.  These include the following:
  • In warm weather conditions, open windows are more fuel efficient than air conditioning.
  • Proper maintenance of a vehicle, including items such as regular oil changes, air filter changes and the maintaining of appropriate tire pressure.
  • When running errands with several stops planned, take the time to plan out your route in a way that is most efficient.  This may include avoiding high-traffic areas and also planning the shortest route in terms of distance.
  • Minimizing the weight of the car.  Remove unnecessary items from the trunk or other storage areas that increase the overall weight of a vehicle as the added weight requires more energy to propel the vehicle forward.
I hope you agree that these Enviro Tips are easy to implement and over time, will become second-nature.  Once you realize that you aren’t visiting a gas station as often and there is extra money in your wallet, it will be more than enough of an incentive to make the changes permanent.  It goes without saying that a less aggressive driver is also likely to be a safer driver, which means the likelihood of either being stopped by police or getting into an accident may decline as well.

 

Eric Novak

About Eric Novak

Eric Novak is a father of 4 who also thinks that environmental stewardship is a requisite of parenting. He's not a professional Dad nor is he an environmental scientist, but he's someone who gives a damn and is trying to make the right decisions as he lives his life as a father, environmentalist and business owner. Eric and his wife Karen have 4 children and reside in Ajax, Ontario.