From zippy Ford Fiestas to tough-as-nails Land Rovers, vehicle emissions are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in the UK. The Royal College of Physicians estimates air pollution claims the lives of more than 40,000 Brits a year. This makes all the more essential to reduce emissions wherever possible.
So, what can you do to slash car emissions and minimise your carbon footprint? Read on for some easy ways to get from A to B as efficiently as possible.
1. Quit idling
You can’t always avoid idling in traffic. However, scenarios like collecting the kids from school or waiting for a partner to pick up a few supplies from the supermarket create unnecessary emissions. According to Westminster City Council in London, idling cars produce enough exhaust to fill 150 balloons every minute.
These car emissions are laced with gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Not only do these contribute to air pollution and climate change but are also linked to respiratory issues like asthma and lung disease. Turning off your engine where possible is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce your emissions and tread a little lighter on the planet.
Want to literally slash your emissions by 50%? Carpooling is a hugely effective way to reduce your carbon footprint and unlock fuel savings in the process. It works particularly well for commuters, school runs and multifamily holidays. Furthermore, you may discover other great scenarios where carpooling works a treat. The more passengers you add, the greater the savings!
3. Drive less
Simple lifestyle changes like walking to your local high street instead of driving can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. You’ll also be working towards the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day. Consequently, this makes driving less a great way to improve your health and care for the planet. Even better, many insurers now offer reduced premiums for motorists who use their cars less.
4. Enjoy a smoother ride
When you’re behind the wheel, efficient driving is one of the best ways to minimise emissions and reduce your carbon footprint. Go easy on the accelerator, especially if you’re driving in the city. Obviously, it’s pointless to rapidly increase your speed only to be slowed down at a traffic light. You should also avoid erratic braking as this can heighten your fuel consumption and increase emissions. Essentially, you want to keep your driving as smooth and fluid as possible.
5. Service your car regularly
From oil changes to tyre alignment checks, regularly servicing your car can help unlock better fuel mileage and reduce your environmental footprint. A well maintained vehicle will also save you money at the forecourt, making it a win-win situation for your wallet and Mother Nature.
6. Check your tyre pressure
Driving with the right tyre pressure can drastically improve your fuel economy and reduce emissions. Studies suggest under-inflated tyres can increase fuel consumption by as much as 5% due to higher rolling resistance and temperatures. This translates to higher emissions, as well as faster wear and decreased tread life. A quick Google search should pull up the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle make, model and year.
7. Replace worn tyres
Driving with worn out tyres not only reduces performance but significantly increases your emissions. A recent study from Emissions Analytics revealed just how damaging worn tyres can be. Senior researcher Richard Lofthouse warned, “It’s time to consider not just what comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe but particle pollution from tyre and brake wear. Our initial tests reveal that there can be a shocking amount of particle pollution from tyres – 1,000 times worse than emissions from a car’s exhaust.”
He adds that tighter rules are needed to monitor non-exhaust emissions (NEE), which are “totally unregulated” and pose a major threat to British air quality. The bottom line? Staying on top of your tread and replacing your tyres when necessary can have a big impact on your carbon footprint.
8. Skip the air conditioning
If you really want to bring down your carbon emissions, consider skipping the air conditioning and opting for a rolled down window instead. Turning on the AC places extra stress on the engine which can result in a 20% increase in fuel consumption. In fact, this makes it one of the most demanding auxiliary features of your car. The impact is especially noticeable at low speeds, so try to keep your use as low as possible during city drives.
9. Embrace cruise control
Cruise control is a great way to maintain a steady speed on longer drivers. Unnecessarily slowing down and speeding up can burn through fuel and ramp up your emissions. The upside is that this makes cruise control a great way to reduce your fuel consumption and minimise your environmental footprint.
10. Clean out your car
Maybe it’s a few bags of charity store donations in the back seat or a boot full of beach gear you’ve been meaning to unload since last weekend. Whatever the case, removing excess luggage from your car is a guaranteed way to reduce your carbon footprint. Vehicle weight has a direct impact on fuel efficiency, with a recent Canadian study suggesting reducing weight by 10kg translates to savings of $104 over 200,000km – that’s around £75.
11. Choose the right car for your needs
Reviewing the suitability of your vehicle can have big implications for your carbon footprint. For example, if you own a 4WD but mostly use it for school runs and supermarket trips, it could be worth switching to a smaller and more fuel efficient vehicle. Alternatively, you might prefer to purchase a second vehicle for city use and save the 4WD for longer trips. Every motorist is unique, so take the time to analyse your situation and make an informed decision.
12. Upgrade your vehicle
New vehicles are more fuel efficient than ever, with models like the 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine Peugeot 208 offering an impressive fuel economy rating of 73.6mpg. When running on petrol, the Peugeot 108 boasts a 58.9mpg rating, making it one of the best-performing cars on the market. If you drive an older vehicle, upgrading to a newer model could have an incredible impact on your emissions and carbon footprint.
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