Greener cars and driving
The type of car you own, the way you drive it and the fuel you use can have a big impact on the emissions it produces. Personal car travel contributes to local air pollution and congestion.
Buying a greener car doesn't mean you have to compromise. More fuel efficient cars use less fuel so they produce fewer emissions, as well as saving you money on fuel bills and on vehicle tax. When you’re looking at the fuel efficiency of a car remember:
- different versions of the same car model or type of car can vary significantly in fuel efficiency - so buy a more fuel efficient version of the type of car or model you want
- as a general rule, smaller cars and those with smaller engines are more fuel efficient
Fuel economy label
Car showrooms have fuel economy labels that show you how fuel efficient each new car is. The labels show:
- a rating from band A (green) to band G (red), with band A being the most fuel efficient
- the bands match the vehicle tax bands and the labels also show you how much vehicle tax you would have to pay each year - the more fuel efficient the car the less tax you pay
- Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership - The Fuel Economy Label Explained
Search for a fuel efficient car
A new fuel efficient car emits less CO2 and over a year could save you the equivalent of three months’ worth of fuel. You can use the Car Fuel Database to look for a fuel efficient car. You can search by fuel economy, tax band and car make or model.
All new cars have to meet 'Euro' standards set for specific emissions that can be harmful to human health as well as the environment. Generally speaking, the higher the Euro number the cleaner the car.
A few changes to the way you drive could save you one month's worth of fuel over a year. The way you drive your car will affect how much fuel you use and the amount of emissions your car produces.
By following the tips below you could save one month's worth of fuel over a year, as well as reducing your emissions:
- driving smoothly can reduce fuel consumption - check the road ahead, anticipate traffic and avoid harsh acceleration and braking
- shift to a higher gear at the right time - shift up at 2,500 rpm for petrol cars and 2,000 rpm for diesel cars - a vehicle travelling at 37mph in third gear uses 25 per cent more fuel than it would at the same speed in fifth gear
- get in and go - modern engines are designed to be most efficient when you just get in and go - keeping the engine running or pumping the accelerator wastes fuel, increases engine wear and increases emissions
- switch your engine off if you know you won't be moving for a while
- check your tyre pressures regularly - under-inflated tyres can increase your fuel consumption by up to three per cent
- stick to the speed limits - at 70mph you could be using up to 30 per cent more fuel than at 50mph
- remove unnecessary weight and roof racks - they increase the weight and air resistance - so they increase the amount of fuel you use
- air conditioning and other on-board electrical devices (like mobile phone chargers) increase fuel consumption, so only use them when necessary
Consider a car that runs on greener fuels such as electricity or liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
Electric cars do not produce any emissions when they drive (but emissions are produced from electricity generation).
Hybrid cars use a petrol engine combined with a battery and are very fuel efficient without any compromise on performance.
Liquid petroleum gas
Liquid petroleum gas (LPG) cars are not available for purchase new in the UK, but petrol cars can be converted. Converting an older petrol car can bring local air quality pollutant emissions more in line with more modern cars - but will only continue to do so if the conversion is well engineered and maintained.
Well maintained cars tend to run more efficiently - find out how to keep your car in good condition.
Waste from car maintenance is often hazardous. Use council waste facilities for safe disposal.
Unwanted vehicles should be taken to an Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). They arrange vehicles to be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way and give owners a certificate which shows they are no longer responsible for it. Since January 2007, vehicle manufacturers have arranged for free disposal at ATFs for owners.