National Clean Air Day arrived last week, at a time when air quality is at the forefront of the political agenda and a key societal concern.
Vehicles are a major contributor to particulate emissions, which are micro foreign particles that can bypass the body’s natural defences and contribute to respiratory problems and other serious illnesses. Indeed, the World Health Organisation, claims road transport accounts for up to 30 per cent of particulate emissions within Europe.
Simon Henrick at Green Flag, comments:
“it’s important for vehicle users to be aware of the harmful effects our vehicles can have, especially as the number of vehicles on the road increases, particularly within our already-congested metropolitan areas.
“Green Flag is committed to helping drivers on roads across the nation, and sharing information and advice about the impact of vehicles on the environment is an important aspect of this objective. The easiest way to reduce emissions is to limit your driving to only when it’s essential. However, when it is necessary to take the car out, there are several simple habits motorists can adopt to reduce their overall emissions.”
Green Flag has shared its top tips for reducing emissions when driving:
Reducing Your Emissions Tips
1. Plan your trip
Before embarking on a journey, make sure that all aspects of your trip have been researched, including the best places to park to save you from aimlessly driving around looking for parking.
Also, think about fewer shorter trips. When your engine is turned on and used over time, its internal components will warm as a by-product of internal combustion; this has the knock-on effect of making fuel easier to burn.
To drive more fuel efficiently, complete all your errands in the same round trip. This will reduce your overall emissions impact compared with pursuing several shorter trips requiring cold starts. Also, consider car sharing; four people in one car is better than one person in four separate cars.
2. Check your tyres
Tyres are your vehicle’s contact to the road. If their air pressure is too low, the engine will have to work harder to compensate for the added friction, increasing exhaust emissions.
Tyres continually lose pressure, so make sure to check them at least once a fortnight to ensure they meet the required level. Use a pressure gauge, consulting your vehicle manual for the optimal tyre pressure.
3. Ensure you check your car
Clean engine oil is vital to the longevity and performance of your vehicle. A lubricated engine is able to perform more efficiently, lowering your fuel consumption and reducing your emissions. Ensure you stick to your car’s recommended service intervals.
Similarly, air filters prevent foreign particles such as dirt and pollen entering your vehicle engine. As you run your vehicle, your filter will gradually clog up over time. This can impact the overall fuel efficiency of your vehicle, increasing your emissions per mile.
4. Accelerate more smoothly
Heavy acceleration combined with stop-start driving burns the greatest amount of fuel. To ensure you are driving with optimal fuel efficiency, gradually build and reduce your speed wherever possible. You’ll keep a full tank of petrol for longer, and lower your vehicle’s emissions.
5. Limit the use of your air conditioning and heater
The Air conditioning unit and heater require input from your engine, thus increasing your vehicle’s emissions. To limit emissions, run your air conditioning for two thirds of your journey but switch it off for the last third of your journey. The system will recirculate cool air despite being turned off.
6. Reduce the idle time of your engine
Idle time during periods of congestion dramatically increases vehicle emissions per mile, especially within major cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester.
You can reduce your overall emissions by switching your engine off completely if you’re going to be stationary for 10 seconds or more. If your engine is warm, the start cost in fuel will be less than simply sitting with the engine running. If your car has a stop-start system, ensure it is enabled.
7. Consider the aerodynamics of your car
Opening windows adds to the vehicle drag, particularly when driving at higher speeds on the motorway. Additionally, bike racks and roof boxes will impact your vehicle’s aerodynamics, dramatically raising your vehicle’s drag. Also, don’t carry any excess weight within the vehicle itself.
Lowering vehicle drag will improve your vehicle’s miles-per-gallon, reducing your overall emissions. Check you only open your windows when absolutely necessary; it’s more fuel efficient to run your air conditioning than to suffer the added vehicle drag.
8. Consider the age of the vehicle you are driving
European environmental regulations have added pressure on auto-manufacturers to meet increasingly tight emissions targets. Over time, this has ensured modern vehicles are dramatically more fuel efficient. Older vehicles, especially diesels, produce significant particulate emissions per mile.
If you are driving an older vehicle, consider reviewing modern models on the market. When considering the purchase of a new, or second-hand vehicle, compare the economy and CO2 emissions of the cars you’re looking at. Ensuring your new vehicle is economical will both reduce your weekly fuel expenses, and lower your overall exhaust emissions.