Saving and conserving energy when driving will assume greater significance in the coming months and years as the pressure on world oil prices continues to bite. In Europe over the last thirty years we have experienced several petrol price spikes with critical shortages and queues at times. The situation has been extreme for the last year or so with the result that alternative fuel sources are getting plenty of media coverage and rightly so since we need to be embracing these alternatives for a more secure future!.There are many ways to conserve energy and save money when driving. We are primarily concerned with getting a better fuel consumption from each tankful be it Petrol or Diesel or the still very rare Bioethanol.
Let's start with a favourite subject?Tyres and move on to the Feet, followed by the Engine and its Occupants and Loading.(1) Under inflated Tyres enjoy a greater friction with the road leading to increased gas usage for each kilometre travelled. As well as this they wear out much more rapidly, give a rougher ride, particularly on Irish rural roads and generally upset the overall handling of the car, not to mention a less than comfortable ride for the passengers.(2) Over inflated tyres also wear out rapidly and unevenly leading to more frequent replacement and a bumpy ride for the occupants. Good for the tyre shop but not for you! Oh yes a soft tyre will pick up foreign bodies much more easily, leading to further replacement and expense.(3) An Untrained and Runaway Right Foot is a leading cause of excessive expenditure during all driving activity.
Accelerating too hard, braking too hard, and driving too fast in general all contribute to excessive Fuel and Brake usage and the corresponding increase in noxious emissions. Good driving techniques have quite a beneficial effect on the environment and good servicing habits also reap rewards.(4) The speed for optimum fuel consumption has been recognised over the years to be 55mph or approximately 90kph. As you increase your speed above this level your fuel consumption increases dramatically.
Yes I know it's fun to be cruising at full speed (legally) but remember you are burning up precious fuel.(5) The early use of fifth gear when the road is either clear or traffic well spaced out and moving steadily, will drop the engine r.p.m significantly and reduce fuel consumption. New generations of quality cars now come with 6 gears but the principle holds true that the sooner you get into the higher gear having gained sufficient momentum the better it is for the engine and the less pressure you need to exert on the gas pedal.
Major savings can be made in this area by experimenting with the speed at which the engine will pull smoothly in fifth gear without stress. Once you have discovered the lowest optimum speed at which you can sustain the higher gear without labouring the power train then get into the habit of it. It'll be good for the engine, good for your Bank Balance and will have a beneficial effect on other driving techniques by increasing your awareness.(6) A poorly tuned engine will also use an excessive amount of fuel so the money spent on proper professional servicing will repay you in the end although at the time it may seem expensive.
The rev counter is a very useful tool in keeping an eye on the peak performance of the engine so get used to checking the needle at tick over speed once the engine has warmed up fully. A slight increase over the recommended tick over revs which is ignored will mean unnecessary wasting of fuel. Make sure you adhere to the Manufacturers service cycle recommendations.(7) Open windows and sun roofs contribute to drag and an increase in fuel consumption but clearly you can't drive safely if you are about to expire from heat exhaustion.
Thankfully not something we experience too often here in Ireland. We do have other Driving benefits however, with much less traffic than most other countries in Europe. It's on the increase at an alarming rate so learning how to avoid Traffic Jams by careful planning is another excellent way of saving on Gas.(8) Carrying piles of rubbish in either the cab or the boot of your car will increase your fuel consumption steadily over time so give your boot a make over every so often and clear it out of all but the essentials. You could of course always send your offspring to boarding school (rare Institutions these days) or simply refuse to take them anywhere thereby cutting down on the weight of your vehicle. This would not be a popular move even if you were able to convince them of the Eco Advantages!.
(9) One more point about tyres.If you are carrying extra passengers and luggage, even for a short journey you should increase the tyre pressures. This will give a smoother, safer ride for all concerned and avoid excessive tyre wear. This latter point is particularly relevant if you are planning on rural driving since you will have to deal with an especially Irish phenomenon, that of Potholes. These terrors of the Rural Highway seem to have developed immunity to every possible trick that the road crews throw at them.
Filled one minute and back larger than life the next! Especially after heavy rain which is a not infrequent occurrence throughout the Island. Sometimes these are as big as a garden pond and will damage your underside easily, not to mention the ecological impact of disturbing the resident fish, frogs and other amphibians as you plough through them.(10) Since we seem to be constantly exposed throughout the country to major road works, which is an admirable activity from a safety perspective, you should always switch off your engine if there is going to be more than a minor delay. Sitting for several minutes with the engine running wastes a lot of fuel and puts more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than need be. If you are aware of a significant hold up to the traffic ahead then it's important to keep your distance from the vehicle ahead (which you should be doing as a matter of course) which can prevent you from hitting the vehicle ahead when you are rear ended by a driver who is fast asleep or who hasn't been watching sufficiently ahead. Three rear ends in the last couple of years indicates it is not a once in lifetime incident but a regular occurrence as drivers young and old get distracted by all manner of things totally unrelated to the job in hand.
Quote of the Day?.Be Thankful for your Tankful?it won't Last Forever!.
.Robin Piggott trains young Drivers in the gentle art of Automobile Navigation in Limerick Ireland.
The Astral Driving School is relaunching it's web site very shortly to take beginners to a whole new level of awareness and skill from the comfort of their computer. Get great free expert advice from this expanded resource as well as the The Motorvating Blog.Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robin_Piggott.
By: Robin Piggott