Petrol in your pocket can burn a hole – obviously

Scott regretted not having the sugary drink and biscuit after converting the car to run on his blood

I’m trying to win an iPad 2 in the iSave, iWrite, iPad competition from PlayPennies.com!

With the price of fuel rocketing, you’d think they were using it for rockets (FYI petrol makes rubbish rocket fuel). As of May 2011, the price of unleaded is around £1.36 per litre and diesel at £1.43. The increase in the cost of fuel can really hurt so here are some tips for spending less of your money on the burny stuff.

The Old Favourites

If you’ve ever worried about saving fuel, you’ve probably read tips such as taking off the roof-rack to decrease frictional drag, replacing the spare tyre with a can of tyre-weld, accelerating and braking smoothly and correct tyre pressure. All well and good. They mostly revolve around decreasing the force required to move the car i.e. less mass, less drag. However I would caution against the tyre-weld solution as the fuel savings will probably be offset by buying a new tyre instead of repairing the burst one because it’s now full of foam.

Is it hot in here?

Climate control in a car has generally two options, air conditioning or windows down. We all know that aircon uses more fuel as the aircon motor puts more strain on the engine so more fuel is used. The increase in fuel consumption isn’t much, approximately 5-10% but it’s there. However, rolling down the windows causes turbulence and increased drag, which is increased strain on the engine. The Mythbusters conducted an experiment and concluded at 45mph, you can travel 15% further with your windows down than with aircon. My theory is that at slow speeds below 45mph, it is more fuel-efficient to wind your windows down. If you are cruising on the motorway above 45mph, by all means, turn the aircon on and fan speed to max; increasing the fan doesn’t increase the load on the engine, so you might as well try to cool the car down faster and turn it off again. Not to mention, opening a window at 70mph would be so noisy, you’d use more energy turning the stereo up to hear “Radar Love”.

If only there was a price comparison site for petrol!

Well there is. Petrol Prices is a brilliant resource. Signing up is free and allows you to search by post code to find the best price amongst all the petrol stations nearby. You should take into account that the extra distance will offset the saving, and in the grand scheme of things, you may only save 20p, which will buy you a newspaper. And how much stock can you put in a newspaper that only cost you 20p? Buy a Chomp bar instead, you don’t be disappointed.

The foolproof Buddy system

If you want to reduce costs, easiest way is to split the cost with a buddy. Whilst the increased weight of your friend does increase fuel consumption (one friend is equivalent to a boot full of luggage, so choose a little friend), it won’t cost twice as much, so everyone’ wins. Have no buddies? Then sign up to Car Share and find others that are going in your direction or so you can almost halve your fuel costs.

Last, but should be first:

Leave the car all together. If you can plan any trips in advance to major locations, options like advance train or coach tickets can offer significant savings over driving. According to TheTrainLine, you can save up to 80% compared with buying tickets on the day. For example, advance single tickets between Bristol and Paddington are £10. At a distance of 118 miles, driving a petrol car, it would need an average fuel consumption of 72mpg to make the journey on £10 of fuel. Yes, you do have to travel to the station, on their timetable, and it won’t help you move house. But, there’s no wear-and-tear on your car, you don’t have to worry about parking, and you can sleep *relatively* safely whilst travelling (if you wear a hoodie and cough a lot, people stay clear). With coaches, Megabus can be ridiculously cheap, from Bristol to London Victoria for only £1.50, taking a not dissimilar time to driving of 2.5 hours.

So, in summary:

1: Drive better; slow is smooth, smooth is fast

2: Windows down when driving slow, aircon on when driving fast

3: Find the best price for fuel with PetrolPrices.com

4: Find an appropriate travel buddy on Car Share

5: See if you can take the train or coach, leaving the car behind

Unless you drive for fun, always keep in mind that you want to spend as little as possible on fuel, so you can spend it on things that are falling in price instead of rising, like computer memory and houses.

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