For many of us, driving is a necessary part of our everyday lives. But with the average car costing us around £3,000 per year, it can be a highly expensive necessity.
However, with a bit of careful driving, the right car and the right car insurance, you can ease the cost of driving considerably. So here is our easy five-point guide to cutting the cost of driving.
1) Look at the type of car you drive
Cars with smaller, more economical engines will save you on fuel, but could also save you on tax and car insurance. In fact, cars that emit less than 100 g/km of CO2 emissions pay absolutely nothing for their road tax, providing the vehicle was registered after 2001. This is in comparison to £460 per year for the highest CO2 emitters – those that produce over 255 g/km of CO2.
In addition, a smaller engine means a slower car, and therefore less of a risk – thus possibly saving you money on your car insurance, too.
2) Adapt your driving style
Petrol engines are most economical between 1500rpm and 4000rpm, whilst diesel cars are best between 1500rpm and 2500rpm. Try and keep to a gear that puts you between these rev limits so that the engine is not straining in either too low or too high a gear.
Every time you break or accelerate, you are using more energy (and therefore fuel). By driving smoothly, and avoiding sharp breaking, you can really cut your fuel bill dramatically. Try and imagine that you have a cup of water in your car, and drive in a style that would avoid spilling too much out of the cup.
3) Think about your fuel consumption
There are a few key culprits that can dramatically increase your fuel bill – so be aware. Air-conditioning drains energy from the engine, increasing your fuel consumption, so try to keep it switched off, or on ‘economical’ (where it draws air from outside rather than from the air conditioning system).
Unnecessary weight is a fuel guzzler, so if you’ve got lots of stuff in the boot that you don’t need that day, take it out.
Another culprit you may not be aware of is roof bars – or indeed anything that decreases the aerodynamics of your car. If you’re not using them, take them off.
4) Reduce your speed
Did you know that you can cut your fuel costs by a whopping 30% by simply reducing your speed from 70mph to 50mph? Yes, we know it’s boring, but by leaving just that little bit earlier you really can save yourself a fortune.
For example, a car journey that would normally cost you £50 when driving at 70mph would only cost you £35 if you drove at 50mph. If you do that journey regularly you could save yourself a tidy sum of money over the course of a year.
5) Shop around for car insurance
Car insurance is often a big chunk of the yearly expenditure on a car, so make sure you shop around for the best deal. Apathy can cost you, so do your homework before you renew your policy.
Of course, cutting costs doesn’t mean cutting corners. Make sure you get a car insurance policy that gives you all the cover you need, otherwise you could end up spending more in the long run.
Sarah Leverton writes for Sainsbury’s Money Matters blog on topics such as car insurance, child safety and affordable driving. She also writes for a range of other publications, covering a wide variety of topics from sailing to health and lifestyle.