How to lower your driving emissions

Motorists are being advised on how to reduce their vehicle’s emissions for better performance and increased fuel economy, with central London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) launching today (April 8).

Air pollutants produced by vehicles are some of the most toxic on the planet, so LeaseVan.co.uk has revealed 17 easy ways drivers can curb their emissions, whilst driving on British roads.

From April 8 2019, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is live in London, with the aim of reducing the number of dirty cars on the roads and the number of motorists using vehicles in the city.

Drivers who don’t meet the standards or exemptions must pay £12.50 per day to use the ULEZ on top of the daily Congestion Charge fee of £11.50, meaning motorists face paying £24 a day.

The Congestion Charge fee also increases to £100 for heavier vehicle types, including lorries over 3.5 tonnes and buses/coaches over 5 tonnes.

Cars account for nearly 30% of the total CO2 emissions produced in the EU, and have a detrimental impact on the health of people, animals, and the local environment.

But it’s easy to lower your carbon tyre-print with a few changes to your driving habits.

Tim Alcock of LeaseVan.co.uk said: “By simply being more aware of how you drive around day-to-day and changing your driving habits, motorists should be able to see a noticeable difference in their emissions output.

“Taking the time to properly maintain your vehicle and spending just a little more cash on things like a good cleaning agent, premium fuel and regular oil changes will ensure your engine is as clean as possible and therefore more efficient.”

Here is the LeaseVan.co.uk advice:

Save on weight

When your vehicle is full of heavy items, it has to do more work and burn more fuel, so if you know you won’t need a certain set of tools for a particular job, leave them at home.

Maintenance

Get your vehicle serviced regularly to ensure it’s always performing at its best and burning fuel as efficiently as possible.

Use a cleaning agent

As vehicles age, harmful deposits can build up in the vehicle’s engine, reducing efficiency and increasing emissions. Adding a cleaning agent into the fuel system will help remove the deposits, in turn lowering your emissions.

Check your tyres

You should check your tyre pressures regularly and before long journeys – under-inflated tyres can have a much greater rolling resistance, causing you to use up to 2% more fuel. You should check your tyre pressure every couple of weeks, and increase the pressure when carrying heavy loads.

Correct engine oil

The engine oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle – it lubricates, cleans, cools and prevents wear. By using the right engine oil for the make and model of your car, your engine will run more smoothly, allowing for better performance and efficiency.

Use premium fuel

‘Premium’, ‘super’, and ‘ultimate’ fuels contain active cleaning agents to remove dirt from the engine, which should improve fuel efficiency and reduce your emissions.

Change the air filter

When an air filter gets clogged, the airflow to the engine is reduced, which can result in a number of problems. Check the recommended service intervals for the optimum time to change the filter, but be prepared to change it more regularly if you live in a dusty environment.

Accelerate gently

The harder you accelerate, the more fuel you consume. To maximise your fuel efficiency, imagine that there’s an egg under your pedal and an open cup of coffee on your dashboard – you don’t want to break the shell or spill the drink!

Be kind to your gears

Don’t labour your van’s engine by holding on to one gear for too long. Instead, try changing up at an engine speed of around 2,000 rpm (diesel) or 2,500 (petrol). Since 2014, new vehicle models have been fitted with a shift indicator to encourage use of the most efficient gear – so keep an eye on that too.

Maintain a steady speed

Unintentional dips in speed and sudden bursts of acceleration to keep pace take a toll on your tank – and your wallet. Consider using cruise control for highway driving, and where traffic patterns permit, allow your speed to drop when you travel uphill, then regain momentum as you roll downhill.

Keep rolling

Stopping then starting again uses a significant amount more fuel than rolling along at a constant, low speed, so try slowing extra early when approaching traffic lights or a queue and you might not have to stop completely.

Use your air-con wisely

At low speeds, air-con can increases fuel consumption by as much as 20%, so try opening the windows when you’re cruising around town. At higher speeds, on the motorway for instance, the effect of air con on your fuel consumption isn’t as noticeable. Don’t leave it on all the time, but running it at least once a week will help to keep the system in good condition.

Turn off unnecessary electrics

Modern vehicles are packed with electrical components that put additional strain on your car’s fuel tank. When driving, turn off any unnecessary electrics – including heated screens, demisters and headlights – if you don’t need them.

Stick to the limit

Going faster uses more fuel. For example, driving at 70mph uses up to 9% more than at 60mph, and up to 15% more than at 50mph!

Try to group short trips

Whether picking up the kids or nipping out to grab a pint of milk, quick trips are some of the least efficient journeys you can do behind the wheel, so try to group them together wherever possible.

Stay aerodynamic

Wind resistance increases fuel consumption, so try to keep windows closed at high speeds and remove roof racks and boxes when not in use.

Drive a manual

According to the AA, automatics can use 10% to 15% more fuel than manuals.