Using a few simple tricks, you can improve energy efficiency, reducing consumption and environmental impact.
With these nine suggestions, we want to help you discover how easy it is to draw benefits, when one sets oneself to protect the environment.
* The savings indicated are calculated with reference to use in a "typical" Italian family of four people.
When your vehicle is in movement, it is struggling against friction: the resistance of air, the ground and the engine. And the faster you go, the greater the forces of resistance.
Driving close to your vehicle's maximum speed results in a considerable waste of fuel. In fact, at more than 90-100 km/h an increasing proportion of the power of the engine is used to combat friction, without any useful transformation in terms of propulsion.
Every vehicle has a speed that is defined as "economic speed", and corresponds, more or less, to 2/3 of the maximum speed and provides the highest level of performance at the lowest level of fuel consumption.
When you are driving on the motorway, keep the windows closed. Keeping them open increases the air current and, consequently, resistance and fuel consumption. In economic terms, it is only at speeds of less than 80 km/h that it is worth lowering your windows to cool the air inside the car rather than using the air conditioning.
When moving off or braking and when changing gear, maintain a fluid and regular pace, avoiding abrupt manoeuvres or gear changes.
For hills (climbing/descending) use the engine and the vehicle's inertia to brake: keeping the engine in gear and taking your foot off the accelerator, interrupts the flow of fuel to the engine.
At the same speed, an engine will consume more fuel at a low gear than a high one. By avoiding to push the engine to the limit of revs and quickly moving up a gear will allow you to save around 10% of fuel every trip.
In fact, give that internal friction loss is greatest at high engine speeds, to achieve the highest drive power with the lowest consumption you need to always use the highest possible gear and the lowest number of revs. So it is necessary to move up a gear as soon as possible, in other words, as soon as the engine can cope with the higher gear and to downshift as late as possible.
When do I know when to change gear?
Watch the rev counter on the dashboard. A petrol-driven engine should run at between 1,500 and 2,500 revs per minute, and diesel engines at between 1,300 and 2,000 revs per minute.
So when the engine reaches 2000 revs (diesel), or 2500 revs (petrol) you should move up a gear, while only when the engine goes below 1,300/1,500 revs per minute should you change down. For example, by using the fourth gear immediately on reaching a speed of 40 km/h you can save up to 20% of fuel compared with using the third, and more than 50% compared with using second gear.
Unecessary acceleration and abrupt braking are not just anti-social, they are also anti-ecological and anti-economic, given that they increase fuel consumption. By avoiding them, you allow your engine to operate at maximum power with minimum fuel. When braking most of the engines power is lost to mechanical friction, heating all the parts of the engine. Acceleration demands extra energy to power the engine.
Maintaining a constant speed also when driving in urban areas and anticipating the dynamics of the traffic will allow you to save between 10% and 25% of fuel. Moreover, a more regular style of driving is also more comfortable and less stressful, as it produces less noise and reduces the risk of accidents.
How to drive in urban areas?
Here area few simple suggestions to help you maintain a constant and regular style of driving in towns and cities:
move off with a steady pace and gentle acceleration;
drive with a view to what's happening around you to avoid the need for continuous braking;
use the engine to slow you down: if you need to brake for a slowdown in the traffic, take your foot off the accelerator and keep the engine in gear, the car will spontaneously slow down, interrupting the flow of fuel to the engine;
use the vehicle's inertia: if you are about to face a hill, it is not necessary to slow down first, as this will eliminate power that has already been produced. Moreover, a steady speed also allows you to reduce the emission of polluting substances: not only for reduced fuel consumption, but also because pollution reduction equipment (catalytic converters, etc.) perform better at constant speeds.
When conditions allow, use the highest gear possible (this can save up to 10% of fuel every trip)
When possible, don't use your vehicle for short trips (in Europe, 90% of trips are of less than 3 km).
When you start your car, it is not necessary to press of the accelerator to "warm up" the engine while the vehicle is still standing. All this does is to increase fuel consumption and the emission of greenhouse gases. You can move off immediately without causing any damage to the engine, even if the engine is diesel driven.
This small suggestion could save you up to 2 litres of fuel per month.
Switch the engine off if you get stuck in a queue, have to stop at a level crossing or whenever you have to stop for more than two minutes. Modern engines consume around 0.5 litres of fuel per hour, even in neutral. So, switching off the engine is an easy way of saving.
According to British research, Italians are the Europeans who waste most fuel without moving.
If your tyre pressure is less than the optimal level, you will use between 2% to 4% extra fuel, due to the additional rolling resistance (+10%). in other words, as a result of tyre friction against the road surface, causing energy waste.
Flat tyres also reduce adherence and vehicle control, especially on wet surfaces, as well as extending braking distances.
Flat tyres also wear out more quickly, so they last 40% less and have to be changed sooner.
To avoid all of this, check your tyre pressure every two weeks if you can, or at least once a month. The loss of air pressure is a normal process, and every month this reduces pressure by about 5%.
How can I check tyre pressure?
Not by sight! A tyre can lose pressure without it being visible. You can only accurately check the pressure with a pressure gauge. Moreover, you should always measure the pressure of cold tyre, i.e. after having driven for less than 3 km or ten minutes after switching off the engine. If your vehicle is fully loaded, the correct pressure should be 0.2-0.3 bar higher than that recommended by the manufacturer.
At what level of pressure should I add air to my tyres?
The correct pressure level is indicated by the manufacturer and depends on the model. You can find the recommended pressure in the Users' Manual and most cars also have a sticker on the car door or inside the petrol flap. In general, for a standard medium-sized car, the optimal pressure should be between 2.2 and 2.4 bar.
If you have to change the tyres of your vehicle, or if you have driven more than 50,000 - 60,000 km, you could buy "fuel saver" tyres.
These properties are the result of the specific structure and the material used for the tread, designed to guarantee a low level of rolling resistance.
In fact, rolling resistance generates a drag factor that has to be overcome by the engine, with a consequent use of energy (4-7% of the total energy consumed by a vehicle).
It has been shown that 10% reduction in the rolling resistance leads to a 1-2% reduction in fuel consumption.
The low rolling resistance of fuel saver tyres, which is more than 30% lower than traditional tyres, depends on the maintenance of the correct tyre pressure.
What can I do?
When you change your tyres, ask your dealer for "fuel saver" tyres. Generally, fuel saver tyres have the same prices as conventional tyres and are just as reliable in terms of grip and road holding.
Remember to regularly check your tyre pressure, at least once a month. If you do this you could save an average of 3% of fuel.
The main task of engine oil is to lubricate the moving mechanical components of the engine, in order to reduce friction to a minimum and therefore contain fuel consumption.
Fuel economy lubricants have been specifically designed to reduce mechanical friction thanks to the use of specially designed additives. These have excellent flowability properties, both a t cold, facilitating winter start up, and hot temperatures, thanks to the low level of volatility of their components, which it makes it possible to reduce also oil consumption.
The y also have excellent wearing characteristics, which guarantee the long life of mechanical components and reduce the need for maintenance and physical-chemical stability characteristics due to the presence of special synthetic bases, that react against thermo-oxidising alterations due to high temperatures and air in the engine.
The levels indicated by the specifications laid down by ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association, an association of 13 European car makers) for a lubricant to be defined as fuel economy is on average 2.5%, but on urban routes this can rise to 4%. The higher cost (on average +€5/litre, or €20 more for each oil change, which with a traditional lubricant costs around €50) is completely paid back by the fact that fuel economy lubricants last twice as long as the traditional variety.
So, when you need an oil change, ask for "fuel economy" lubricant: it's worth it!
How often do I need to change the oil?
You should check your vehicle's Owners' Manual. Modern cars usually need an oil change every 10.000-15,000 km, on average once a year (especially for diesel engines), while "fuel economy" lubricants should be changed once every two years.
How often do I need to change the oil filter?
Also for this you should check your vehicle's Owners' Manual. However, in general, the oil filter should be changed with every oil change, or before changing type of lubricant.
When you have an oil change, take advantage and have the whole vehicle checked (for example, you may also nee to change the air and fuel filters). Good maintenance is not a waste of time and money, on the contrary it will save you money!
Aerodynamics have a very significant impact not only on the behaviour of a vehicle on the road, but also on fuel consumption. The greater the drag factor, the higher consumption will be.
All models of cars are subjected to wind tunnel tests to optimise their aerodynamic performance. The presence of objects and aerials on the roof will interfere with the aerodynamics by increasing the drag factor: the scale of this impact will depend on the shape of the object(s). Roof racks and ski racks should be removed when not in use. If you need to put baggage on the roof, the smallest should be placed at the front or preferably in aerodynamic containers. The use of accessories that interfere with the vehicle's aerodynamics will result in additional fuel consumption or between 10% and 20%, and even more at higher speeds. For example with the use of roof accessories, at an average motorway speed of 120 km/h, the additional consumption can reach almost 40%.
So, avoiding the use of roof accessories, especially on motorways, can lead to considerable savings.
Also open windows affect the aerodynamics, creating additional air currents that increase the overall drag factor of the vehicle. It is therefore good practice to always keep the windows closed, especially at speeds of over 80 km/h. In terms of energy consumption, at high speeds it is cheaper to use the air conditioning to cool the inside of the vehicle.
* The savings indicated have been calculated with reference to a "typical" Italian family of four people.
You should avoid carrying unnecessary packages or object in your vehicle, as well as being good for you back there are immediate advantages in terms of cost. The heavier your vehicle, the more fuel it will consume. So, make sure your boot doesn't contain unnecessary weight, things like snow chains in the summer.
How is extra consumption calculated?
Calculating extra consumption is relatively easy: 1% of extra weight, for example an extra 15 kg in an average car that weighs around 1,500 kg, will lead to extra consumption of 0.35%.
In general, it's worth considering that when you use your vehicle to move yourself (50-100 kg) you move an object (the vehicle itself) that weighs at least 1,500 kg! So, when you can, share the vehicle with other passengers or, better, go on foot or by bicycle. 30% of all car trips in Europe are for distances of less than 3 km.
* The savings indicated have been calculated with reference to a "typical" Italian family of four people.