Driving for Fuel Efficiency: The Three S’s
As the cost of fuel continues to rise and the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident more and more drivers are looking to improve their mileage by changing driving habits. You can reduce your fuel costs and GHG emissions by an average of 10-15% (or as high as 45%) by following the three S’s: Smooth, steady and stop.
Every day countless drivers hammer on the gas only to hammer on the brake five seconds later, as they reach a stop sign or red light. Smooth driving is one common sense method to help improve your fuel efficiency. Jack-rabbit driving (hard stops and quick starts) waste more than 35% of your tank, while only saving about two and a half minutes per hour of city driving.
Timing is key to driver efficiency; it is imperative to always make sure you leave enough time for your drive. Leaving late will generate anxiety and increase your likeliness to employ poor driving habits. Smooth driving means accelerating slowly; we recommend taking your foot off the brake to let the car begin to move before you begin to apply the accelerator. Similarly, anticipating traffic allows you to coast to a stop rather than accelerating up until the last second, before you hammer on the brakes. Be aware of stop signs, traffic lights and congested traffic well ahead of you so that if you need to slow down or stop you will be able to do so by coasting rather than braking. To practice smooth driving, imagine a full cup of coffee on your dashboard and try to drive so that you don’t spill a drop.
I often relate driving for fuel efficiency to riding a bicycle. On my bike I try to carry my momentum as much as possible and avoiding braking whenever I can, because I know that when I brake I will need to put a lot of energy into getting back up to speed. The same basic principle applies when it comes to the extra energy required to start a vehicle that has come to a complete stop.
Driving at steady speeds is a good way to improve your fuel mileage. Cruise control can assist with this during longer highway drives. Recent statistics from Natural Resources Canada report that the most fuel efficient speed, also known as the “sweet spot”, is somewhere between 55 and 88 km/hr, depending on your vehicle type. Larger/heavier vehicles have a lower speed sweet spot; lighter/smaller vehicles have a higher speed sweet spot. You will burn exponentially more fuel as you surpass the sweet spot; for example, driving at 120km/hr will burn more than 20% more fuel than 100km/hr. A 50 km trip will take you 30 minutes at 100km/hr and 25 minutes at 120km/hr. In other words burning 20% more fuel will save you 5 minutes.
Finally, eliminating engine idling is a guaranteed method for improving your fuel mileage, as idling gets you nowhere! Ten seconds of idling burns more fuel than turning off your engine and restarting it does. Consider turning off your engine if you are stopped at construction sites or other prolonged stops. It is a common misconception that idling is good for your engine in order to warm it up to operating temperature before driving. However, in the case of today’s gas-fuelled passenger vehicles the best way to warm up the vehicle is by driving it.
Practice these tips and let us know if you notice an improvement in your fuel efficiency, or let us know if you have any questions or any other useful tips by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 6th, 2011
In September 2011 Clean Nova Scotia’s FleetWiser program opened the application process for the Greening
November 9th, 2011
Wolfville municipality has become the second municipality in Nova Scotia to implement an Idle-Free Bylaw.
September 21st, 2011
Clean Nova Scotia’s DriveWiser program encourages all Nova Scotians to participate in World Car Free
August 5th, 2011
One of the easiest ways to cut fuel costs and improve your Km/L is to