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Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 19:17 GMT 20:17 UK
Tips for saving petrol
What is the best way to get to work?
With fuel still so scarce, perhaps the best way to get round the crisis is to find ways of needing less in the first place.

As Tony Bosworth, of Friends of the Earth says: "There are lots of sensible and straightforward things that people can do, and many involve little effort."

They have the added benefit of helping the environment and who knows - you might even end up finding your wallet a whole lot thicker!

Change some driving habits

Speed limit
Suddenly, going slow is not so bad after all
The way you drive affects how often you have to fill up.

Driving smoothly, with as little sudden acceleration or braking as possible, evens out fuel use and improves the efficiency of your car's engine.

If you cut your average speed from 70mph to around 50mph, you will burn about 25% less petrol.

Even shutting all the windows will make your car that bit more aerodynamic, cutting the cost of a journey from, for example, London to Exeter from 20 to 15.

Tinker with your car

Time to look again at those dodgy old boots
Have a look inside your car. Is the dog guard inside? Is the roof rack still on? What about those six pairs of walking boots sitting in the boot?

The heavier your car is, the more fuel it uses. So slim it down and save some money (and clean those boots you have been meaning to attend to for months...)

You could also revisit the air point at your nearest garage (that is about all there is to do there nowadays). Well-maintained tyres, kept at the proper pressure, are far more fuel-efficient.

Leave your car at home

Open All Hours
The cornershop: the future of fuel-friendly shopping?
Where were you going today? John O'Groats? Or round the corner to pick up a pint of milk?

A quarter of all car journeys in Britain are less than two miles long, and walking or cycling are cheap and clean alternatives.

The school run is a particularly popular way of burning up fuel: a fifth of cars on the road in the morning are filled with children being driven to school.

Getting out of the car and onto the pavement would not only save petrol, but would burn flab instead of fuel - always a good idea.

Leave yourself at home

Neighbours logo
Ah, so that is what you mean by tele-working...
Instead of fighting the traffic on the daily commuter run, how about experimenting with working from home?

More and more employees are finding this an effective alternative, especially with the growth of email and mobile phones.

There are the added advantages that you can avoid distracting interruptions, eat away from the office canteen, and (keep it from the boss) watch Neighbours.

Cuddle up

Sharing a one-to-one
Rediscovering the joys of conversation
It will not suit every journey. But if you dug out that old train timetable, you might find there is a public transport alternative that would get you to your destination in the same amount of time.

For the truly brave, how about car-sharing? You will have to be sure you are happy with your colleague's pungent aftershave and dodgy line of conversation.

But if everyone who normally drives to work were to get a lift with someone else just once a week, car commuting would fall by around a quarter.



See also:

14 Jul 00 | Talking Point
02 May 00 | Science/Nature
15 May 00 | Science/Nature
13 Jun 00 | Science/Nature
16 Jun 00 | Science/Nature
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