We all know that driving cars has a negative effect on the environment, our health, and our wallet.
In honour of Conservation Week, an annual event run by the Department of Conservation which encourages people to get involved in nature and take care of it. In honour of this week, we've put together a list of 6 changes you can make to your driving so it has less of an impact on your wallet and, more importantly, the planet.
Adjust your driving technique
It’s not just the vehicle you drive but, how you drive it. We all develop driving habits over time and sometimes these aren’t ideal. There are a few things you can do to increase efficiency, reducing your impact on the environment and your wallet.
Driving within the speed limit not only decreases your chances of having an accident, it also minimises your fuel consumption. Similarly, driving at a constant speed is far less polluting than stopping and starting. Maintain steady speeds, by avoiding driving during peak traffic hours and allowing a reasonable following distance, and stick to speed limits.
The more things you have in your vehicle, the more energy required for it to move. Similarly, the more external attachments you have on your vehicle (ie roof boxes or roof racks) the less aerodynamic your vehicle will be. Both weight and resistance contribute to fuel consumption and thus costs.
Maintain your car
Keeping your vehicle in perfect working condition will ensure its at its optimum when it comes to safety and efficiency. Get regular tune-ups, ensure your wheels are correctly aligned and use the recommended motor oil (and change it regularly).
Tyre maintenance also plays a crucial role in helping you use less fuel and be safer on the road. Having the correct pressure will also mean your tyres will last longer. You can find out what the recommended pressure level for your vehicle on the Energywise website.
Minimise your driving
New Zealand’s public transport network has improved greatly over recent years. Before you grab your car keys and head out the door, check what public transport services align with your journey. By taking public transport, you’ll save on fuel and parking costs and in many cases, make it to your destination faster. Similarly, if you’re not going far consider an active mode of transport like walking or cycling or a ride-sharing service like Uber or Zoomy.
If you must drive, minimize your time on the road and distance travelled by taking efficient routes where you’re not sitting in traffic and try to increase the number of passengers in the vehicle. Sharing your car with others heading in the same direction will reduce the number of individual vehicles on the road and reduce each individual's costs, as costs can be split. There are a number of ways to connect with people keen to carpool - check out Smart Travel, Rides, CoSeats or Chariot.
Pick a fuel-efficient vehicle
There can be a big difference in fuel consumption between cars of the same or similar size. EECA energy labels rate each vehicle models fuel economy out of 6 stars. They also provide the estimated cost per year to run the car – this comparative running cost is based on average fuel price and driving 14,000km per year. For diesel vehicles, this cost also includes Road User Charges. The star rating and indicative cost per year helps you to easily compare one car to another. In addition to the EECA energy label, it’s also worth checking out the fuel economy in litres per 100km provided by the vehicle manufacturer.
Remember, all of these figures are derived from tests done in a lab. Your actual fuel economy will depend on a wide range of factors including your driving style, speed and distance travelled, vehicle load, tyre pressure and level of maintenance. So, make sure you’re following tips 1 and 2.
Of course, the best type of vehicle is an electric vehicle. If you’re in the market for a new car, consider moving to a hybrid or going fully electric! Leaps and bounds have been made in the non-petrol vehicle category over the last few years and there are now a handful of epic Electric vehicles (aka EVs) models available on the mainstream market. Check out the Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq, Toyota Mirai, BMW i3 and Kia Soul.
Pick the best tyres
Purchase fuel-efficient tyres and dispose of them responsibly. The most sustainable tyres on the market are Bridgestone Ecopia. These tyres are designed for optimized fuel efficiency. By reducing rolling resistance, they result in 5.7% less fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions without compromising safety or comfort.
Don't forget to maintain your tyres as per tip two!
Give up car ownership completely
Consider how much you use your vehicle and how much it's costing you each year - when you do the math it just doesn't add up. The AA estimates that a small car has fixed costs of $2400 and flexible costs of $3200 each year. Studies also indicate that cars sit idle approximately 95% of the time.
Why not forgo car ownership and just rent vehicles when you need them? People have been sharing their stuff for thousands of years, but developments in technology have made it easier for us to share our stuff! Sharing has positive environmental impacts and social benefits.
Yourdrive is a peer to peer car sharing platform, connecting people needing to rent a vehicle with vehicle owners with vehicle availability. By renting from private owners, you'll find a wider range of better-value vehicles and more pick-up locations than traditional car rental companies. Plus, you’ll get to meet someone new in the process!
Give peer-to-peer car sharing a go with Yourdrive. Thousands of Kiwis are already using Yourdrive to rent vehicles from locals.