Cut your vehicle's CO2 emissions when driving your car

There are a few easy things you can do when you drive and look after your car to help reduce the amount of fuel you burn and so cut down on CO2 emissions. The key is to reduce the amount of work your engine has to do, because the greater the workload, the more fuel is burned – so the higher the CO2 emissions. By following the smarter driving tips below you could cut your CO2 emissions by around 8% – equivalent to an annual fuel saving of up to one month per year.

  1. Before you set off
  2. While driving

Before you set off

Pump up your tyres

Inflating car tyresUnder-inflated tyres create more resistance when your car is moving. That means your engine has to work harder, so more fuel is used and more CO2 emissions are produced. Check and adjust your tyre pressures regularly and also before long journeys. This will also help to increase the life of your tyres.

Under-inflated tyres increase CO2 but over inflated tyres can be unsafe, so check your car manual for the correct tyre pressure. Remember, a car with a heavier load may need different air pressure in the tyres.

Clear out any extra weight

Clutter in a car bootClutter in your boot is extra weight your engine has to carry around. By removing it, you could reduce your engine's workload. Remove roof racks and carriers when not in use to reduce the drag factor as this too will mean you burn less fuel and so cut your CO2 emissions.

Have your vehicle serviced regularly

An under-serviced engine may have to work harder as it's less likely to be operating at its optimum efficiency. This can be inefficient, which can reduce fuel economy. Service requirements can vary from car to car so do check the manufacturer's recommendations for servicing in the owner's manual supplied with the vehicle or with the vehicle manufacturer.

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While driving

Drive at an appropriate speed

Driving above the speed limit is illegal, but also means you use more fuel, and emit more CO2. Staying within the 70mph speed limit on motorways can bring savings of around 10% for your fuel bill compared to driving at 80mph.

Speed up and slow down smoothly

Every time you stop then start again in a traffic queue, the engine uses more fuel and therefore produces more CO2. Keep an eye on the traffic ahead and slow down early by gently lifting your foot off the accelerator while keeping the car in gear.

Change gears at lower revs

RevcounterRevving does not help to warm up a modern car engine or improve its performance. In fact, over revving simply wastes fuel and increases engine wear. Using your gears wisely by changing up a little earlier can reduce revs, and so reduce fuel usage. If you drive a diesel car, try changing up a gear when the rev counter reaches 2000rpm. For a petrol car, change up at 2500rpm.

Avoid leaving your engine running

When the engine is idling you're wasting fuel and adding to CO2 emissions. If you're likely to be at a standstill for more than three minutes, simply switch off the engine.

Don't use air conditioning unless you really need it

Using your air conditioning can increase your fuel consumption so keep usage to a minimum to save on fuel and CO2 emissions. At speeds above 50-60mph it is generally more efficient to keep windows closed, even if this means using the aircon, as open windows will increase drag.

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There are a few easy things you can do when you drive and look after your car to help reduce the amount of fuel you burn and so cut down on CO2 emissions.

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