Tips for lowering your emissions

As well as protecting the environment, driving a vehicle that produces lower emissions can save money.

It is well documented that cars are a big producer of carbon emissions, yet how much an impact a car can have on the environment is dependent on a number of factors.

With the Highways Agency discussing plans to lower the speed limit on certain motorway sections to comply with regulations on air pollution in the European Union, this is testament to how damaging cars can be.

The European Commission (EC) has already announced a set of targets for the level of carbon dioxide emissions that new cars are able to produce to 95g/km by the year 2020. At present this is 136g/km, which was set in 2011 and will come into force for manufacturers from 2015.

There are a number of reasons why drivers can benefit from lowering their emissions. The most well documented one is the environment but there are other more direct examples such as finance.

Often one feature that may stand out when buying a car is that it is considered a "low emissions vehicle". Additionally, there are techniques that drivers can follow to ensure their car does not produce as much carbon as it could.

The benefits of lower emissions

As well as reducing pollution in the air, which can help to lower a person's impact on the environment, ensuring your car produces lower emissions can help to save you money.

The most obvious one, of course, is that the less fuel to the gallon your car uses, the less you will be spending on petrol.

According to the EC, drivers of cars that produce 95g/km of carbon will be £270 better off in the first year of owning the vehicle compared to those that produce 136g/km. Over a 13 year period, EC says they would make a cost saving of between £2,295 and £3,032.

As well as cutting the cost of fuel, people who own cars that produce lower emissions also pay less on their road tax.

In the UK, vehicle excise duty (VED) is calculated on a sliding scale based on the amount of emissions the car produces. At present, cars that emit 100g/km of carbon or less do not have to pay any VED and are exempt from London congestion charges.

Emission reducing aspects to look for in a car

Getting lower emissions from a vehicle starts with the car that is chosen and there are certain attributes to look out for to aid with this.

Engine type can have a considerable impact on emissions and hybrid engines - an electric motor with either a diesel or petrol engine - have been growing in popularity for being far more environmentally friendly.

Additionally, the choice between diesel and petrol can be a decider over how many miles per gallon can be gained from a vehicle. More often than not it is the diesel engine that can get more to the gallon but it is always worth looking over specifications of both diesel and petrol versions of vehicles just to make sure.

How to get lower emissions out of your car

After a vehicle is chosen, the level of carbon emissions that are produced are down to the driver.

Driving at a slower speed, particularly on areas such as motorways, is one way of lowering emissions and making sure that fuel is used more efficiently.

Reducing the amount of time that an engine spends running while idle can reduce emissions. According to the Ford Eco-driving programme, the point at which an engine uses less fuel than restarting a vehicle is 20 seconds. Therefore, when waiting to pick someone up or stuck in a traffic jam that is not moving it can be useful to switch the car off.

Not having the air conditioner on for longer than it needs to be is also useful as this can add to carbon emissions. So it is useful to switch it off a few minutes before arriving at a destination. Leaving the fan on after switching off the aircon will mean that the cooler temperature will continue without causing more emissions.

  • On: 09 January 2014
  • By: CarShop

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