Green driving tips

While cars are wonders of engineering and essential to our everyday life, they also pose a threat to the environment. If you are making an effort to reduce your carbon footprint, one of the most important things you can do is to drive greener. By making small changes to your driving style and how you use your car while driving you can make big differences to your environmental impact. What’s more, the way you drive can make a positive difference to your wallet.

Best practices
Driving technique has a lot to do with your fuel economy. Avoid sudden starts and stops and stick to the speed limit. Not only does speeding and jerky driving impact your kilometres per litre, it's also dangerous. As a general rule, keep your engine speed between 1 200 and 3 000 revolutions per minute (RPMs), and upshift between 2 000 and 2 500 RPMs. Also, drive wisely and minimise unnecessary kilometres by doing multiple errands in one trip, getting good directions beforehand, and planning your trip accordingly.

Regular servicing
Get your car serviced regularly (according to the manufacturer's schedule) to maintain engine efficiency.

Windows up
Where possible, drive with the windows closed to reduce drag and make your fuel consumption more efficient.

Maintain pressure
Check the pressure of your tyres regularly and especially before long journeys. Underinflated tyres create more rolling resistance and therefore your vehicle will use more fuel. Maintaining the correct tyre pressure is important for safety too. Refer to your car's handbook as pressures will normally have to be increased for heavier loads.

Lose weight
Extra weight means extra fuel. So if there's stuff in the boot you don't need on a journey, take it out and leave it at home.

Don't rush
Try not to be in a hurry. Rushed driving can be erratic and is uneconomical. Simply relax and try to enjoy the trip.

Orange means stop, not rush
Try not to beat the traffic lights. Chances are that if you hit a red light and then try to beat all the following lights, you will rush but miss them anyway. If you drive slower, you will usually find that by the time you reach the next light it will have turned green again.

Easy on the aircon
The use of air conditioning should be limited as it increases your fuel consumption.

Shut down
Switch off the engine if you think you will be stationary for more than two minutes.

Slow your roll
Keep your speed down as driving between 80 and 90 km/h is when your emissions will be lowest. Driving over 100 km/h will rapidly increase your emissions.

Don't show off
Avoid unnecessary revving or idling of the engine as this increases your fuel consumption.

Easy on the breaks
Harsh acceleration and braking can increase fuel consumption by up to 30% and can cause increased wear and tear on the vehicle.

Maintain speed
Control your speed – speed limits are there to be observed. But, did you know that travelling at less than 25 km/h creates the most pollution? As your speed increases up to 90 km/h, your level of pollution decreases.

Types of green motor vehicles

Blue fuel
These cars combine fuel-efficient engines with state-of-the-art design and fuel-efficient technological strategies that include a highly aerodynamic body, a low ride-height, automatic stop-start, programmed battery charging system, longer gearing and low-rolling-resistance tires. Fuel consumption is really low on these vehicles. There is a wide range of models to choose from; efficiency doesn’t mean you have to drive around in a plain car as there are some stylish fuel-efficient cars on the market.

Hybrid cars use both fuel and another type of energy. One of the alternative energy sources is the energy created when you apply the brakes. This energy is then stored in the battery and used instead of fuel, which saves on fuel consumption.

Electric cars run only on electric power. They carry large batteries and are simply plugged in to recharge. These cars are ideal for short-distance driving. The downside is that it can take as long as 12 hours to recharge the battery and the distance you can travel is limited to around an average of 160 km.

Biodiesel cars run on a blend of diesel and vegetable oil, or they can run on just diesel. Single-occupant vehicles (SOVs) have diesel engines that have been modified to run on vegetable oil only.

Ethanol cars run on a fuel made from corn, barley or wheat. The most used combination is 85% ethanol and 15% petrol. It both increases octane and reduces emissions.

A hydrogen-powered car uses either combustion or electrochemical conversion to convert chemical energy from hydrogen into mechanical energy to power the car.