Dara de Bruijn



Not everyone can afford to buy a brand new hybrid or electric car, but whether you drive petrol, diesel, or simply like to be a preachy backseat driver, here are some tips on how you can make your car journeys cheaper and better for the environment.

Accelerate Gently

The number one cause of unnecessary fuel burning is excessive acceleration. This isn’t Formula One, so take it easy on the gas pedal. We want to gently and smoothly apply pressure on the gas, so as to only use just as much fuel as necessary. This of course comes with the exception of situations like merging onto a dual carriageway when you need to give it more ‘oomph’.   

Efficient Gear Use

Okay, so we know how cool it is getting up to 80 kmph in second gear, engine roaring like the cry of a fearsome beast (which your Nissan Micra most certainly is) – but when it comes to economical fuel usage this could put a huge strain on your motor and your wallet. 

For a diesel car, we should keep the revs below 2000, and for a petrol car we should try and stay below 3000 RPM. We should smoothly move the gears up, keeping the revs down, either by listening to the engine, watching the revs meter or paying attention to the gear prompt for guidance.

Lift and Roll

The lift and roll technique essentially lets you travel for free. When we’ve already put so much work into getting the car up to the desired speed, many of us tend to waste energy giving the engine more juice, when we could easily lift our foot off the pedal for a few seconds. It’s a habit that can be easily fixed if we pay attention to it. 

Watch the road ahead – is there a corner or junction coming up? Lift the gas for a few seconds before breaking. Consider the opportunities to perform this new habit on your next drive; the alternative of ‘lift and break immediately’ most certainly wastes a lot of fuel over time.

Breaking Speed

Breaking the speed limit is generally very poor for fuel economy. Air resistance is a massive factor in how much fuel a vehicle uses. Traveling at a higher speed will increase the car’s wind resistance drastically, so we should try and maintain lower speeds for better fuel consumption.

“The Energy Saving Trust says that the most efficient speed you can travel in a car in terms of achieving the best fuel economy is 55-65mph. Any faster, though, and the fuel efficiency decreases rapidly. For example, driving at 85mph uses 40% more fuel than at 70mph…”

We should be mindful of this range for optimum wind resistance, as traveling higher or lower will result in inefficient fuel consumption. This doesn’t mean you should try and get up to 55mph in a zone not equipped for this, as the difference only counts over longer stretches. This information is best applied on motorways or dual carriageways. 

Don’t Coast in Neutral!

When we let the car roll with the gear in neutral, or with the clutch pushed down, the car’s fuel injection will use a little bit fuel to keep the engine from idling. Let the car roll when it is in gear for better fuel usage and increased control of speed.

Stop Start

Did you know that you can save up to 10% on fuel consumption by simply switching your engine off when the car is stationary. We recommend you do this when you are stuck in traffic, or if you know intuitively that the car will be stopped for longer than 30 seconds – anything shorter than 30 seconds keep the engine running.

Streamlining you car

Keeping your car in tip top condition will help optimize fuel economy. We can do this by making sure our engine has been serviced recently; by keeping the tyre pressure up, allowing the vehicle to roll with as little resistance as possible; and by removing any bike or roof racks which are not being used, as they will cause excess drag from the wind. 

In summary

You don’t need to buy a brand new car in order to practice economical fuel usage. You can save up to 30% on your fuel costs if you practice economic driving and optimize your car to run smoothly. Safe driving!


[1]: “Get the most from your car with these top 12 ‘hypermiling’ tips | Leo Hickman,” The Guardian, 25-Mar-2011. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 01-Dec-2022].

About the Author

Dara de Bruijn is a freelance writer, musician, and yoga instructor based in Dublin, Ireland. His main focus is exploring the benefits of co-operative living and leading a life orientated around social service.

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