How can I save money on my fuel bill?
Petrol and diesel are one of those necessities; even with prices rising at the pump, most of us still need to fill up as we rely on our car for work and home life.
You can, however, reduce the cost of your monthly fuel bill by making a few changes to your petrol/diesel buying habits, along with your driving style.
Let’s start with buying fuel. Rather than making a last minute dash to the nearest filling station when your warning light comes on, plan ahead and make sure you’re buying the cheapest fuel available in your local area.
Websites such as Petrol Prices allow you to compare the cost of filling up in your local area – a quick check by us revealed a seven pence per litre price difference for unleaded fuel and a four pence difference per litre for diesel in our local area.
Take advantage of promotional incentives
If your local supermarket has a filling station attached to it, often they will run promotional incentives offering discounts on fuel if you spend a certain amount in their store. This is a great way to bring down your fuel bill if you’d be spending the required sum on the weekly food shop anyway.
A word of warning, however: it is not advisable to use supermarket filling stations as your sole source of fuel, even if they offer lower prices. This is because most supermarkets tend not to add lubricants that protect the fuelling system in order to lower the cost per litre. Branded fuels, available at garages such as BP and Shell, include these products and therefore will look after the mechanics of your car and could offer better performance per tank. As a general rule of thumb, fill up at a supermarket one week per month and at a brand fuel garage the rest of the time.
Smooth and steady driving
Once you’ve filled up the cost cutting isn’t over: you can also save money by adapting your driving style to generate a greater number of miles to the gallon. The basic principle for better fuel economy is to keep it smooth and steady. The harder you brake and the more times you accelerate, the bigger the drain on your fuel tank.
By paying greater attention to the road and anticipating scenarios up ahead, you could save on the need to brake as often – you’ll use less fuel lifting your foot off the accelerator to slow the car down than stamping your foot on the break. When you come to a standstill at a junction, roundabout or traffic lights, pull away gently rather than roaring away like a boy racer to bring down your fuel consumption.
When you’re in motion, always select the lowest possible gear for the speed you’re travelling. The higher you rev the engine, the more fuel you waste, so there’s nothing to be gained from tearing along a duel carriageway at 70mph in fourth gear! As soon as it is appropriate and safe, changing up a gear could reduce your monthly fuel usage by as much as fifteen percent.
Just as keeping revs low keeps costs down, your speed also has a major impact on fuel consumption. Simple common sense dictates that the faster you travel, the more fuel you use, so don’t be tempted to speed – it’s illegal and costly.
Turn off heaters when not in use
Another simple change to reduce running costs is to turn off your heater or air conditioning when you don’t use it, as keeping it running continuously will drain your fuel tank. It’s important to make sure your air conditioning is turned on for a few minutes every fortnight or so to check it’s still in good running order, but switching it off when not strictly necessary will have a visible impact on your petrol or diesel bill.
Keep tabs on your tyres
Tyres have a major impact on fuel consumption, too: underinflated tyres can lead to around 3% more fuel being used per journey. Check your driver’s manual to find out the optimum tyre pressure for your vehicle and check they are correctly inflated on a regular basis.
Cut down on using your car
Finally, one sure fire way to save money on fuelling your vehicle is to only use your car when strictly necessary. We’re all tempted to jump in the car when we want to nip to the shops for a pint or milk or it’s raining and the kids need taking to school, but these short journeys are a waste of money and bad for the environment. For longer regular journeys such as travelling to work, find out if you can car share with colleagues to keep costs down.